Amid violence, Baltimore PD cancels officer leave to prepare for Pride
After six homicides in less than 24 hours, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis announced all officers and detectives will be required to work 12-hour shifts
By Kevin Rector
The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis canceled all scheduled leave for officers this Saturday in order to meet the demands of the department's latest anti-violence strategy while simultaneously providing a strong police presence at this weekend's Pride festivities, officials said Thursday.
The decision follows an announcement by Davis on Tuesday, after six homicides in less than 24 hours, that all patrol officers and detectives will be required to work 12-hour shifts, rather than their standard 10-hour shifts, and that all deployable officers will be put on the street through the end of the weekend.
For Pride, the commissioner and other top commanders want to provide a particularly strong presence this year, given last year's attack at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando and last weekend's protests at the Pride parade in Washington, D.C., said T.J. Smith, a police spokesman.
Protesters briefly disrupted the Washington parade, arguing the event had become too corporate and didn't serve the LGBT community, and police there helped reroute the parade. The Pulse attack, in which a gunman killed 49 people and wounded many others, renewed conversations around public safety at LGBT gatherings.
"The LGBT community has been targeted and we have responsibility to ensure appropriate levels of staffing for this event and for the increased presence on the streets in general," Smith said. "In addition, we are still responding to the increased violence we saw last weekend."
Members of Baltimore's LGBT community and leaders in the Old Goucher neighborhood, where the Pride events are planned, said they welcome police this weekend — if the officers are there to support the LGBT community and understand that Pride is an inherently political environment where demonstrations may occur.
Ian Parrish, one of the owners of the Baltimore Eagle, a leather bar in the neighborhood, said he is particularly sensitive to the safety concerns as a bar owner following the Pulse attacks. He said he knows a lot of police officers in the city — including some who are members of the LGBT community — and appreciates the department's commitment.