(BALTIMORE) — Federal agents have joined with Baltimore police as part of a wide-reaching effort to curb the recent violence that one expert says appears to be modeled on Los Angeles’ response to the 1992 riots.
The effort, launched on Monday, involves personnel from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Secret Service, with two agents from each agency directly embedding with the Baltimore police department’s homicide unit, acting police commissioner Kevin Davis said on Sunday.
The collaboration, which Davis dubbed “B-Fed,” comes after two people were fatally shot in Baltimore in the first two days of August, on top of the dozens of killings that took place in the city in July.
Steve Gomez, who worked for the FBI as part of a joint task force with the Los Angeles Police Department when it launched a collaboration in the wake of the riots that followed the beating of Rodney King, said that that was “very similar to what is occurring in Baltimore.”
Gomez, now a consultant for ABC News, said Baltimore police “clearly need assistance from various agencies and now they’re going to get it.”
“Obviously, they’re overwhelmed,” he added.
Rioting in Baltimore took place after the funeral service of Freddie Gray in late April, who died from injuries he suffered while in police custody.
“It’s a snowball effect from the time that the riots began moving forward … Violence begets violence and the criminals are feeling empowered to commit more crime,” Gomez said.
One of the benefits of calling in the federal agents, Gomez said, was that in addition to using the extra resources available at the federal level, they will be able to take on more cases that may have been passed over if the extra staff weren’t on hand.
“They’ll authorize the federal agencies … basically to investigate and take in cases that normally may not meet the prosecuting threshold and that’s because of the rise in violence and the federal government along with the state of Maryland are reprioritizing and committing their agencies to take on cases that will help deal with the rise in violence in Baltimore,” he said.
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