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BPD on High Alert for Three Days

Dominique Maria Bonessi

After two city police officers were involved in a shooting more than a week ago and the number of homicides jumped last month, the Baltimore Police Department is going on high alert for three days.

Police released body camera footage Monday afternoon of the September 23rd shooting. It shows officers Phillip Lippe and Steven Foster encountering Nathaniel Sassafras, whom they suspected of drug trafficking, on North Fremont Street. They chased Sassafras into an alley behind Vine Street, where video shows Sassafras opening fire on Lippe.

Lippe was struck three times--in the chest, at his body camera and in his elbow. He returned fire, striking Sassafras multiple times. Sassafras died at the scene. Foster was unharmed.

Interim-Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle says the officers did everything right.

“The officers did a commendable job,” says Tuggle. “They tried to come in they tried to confine the scene by telling people to move back.”

In addition, the city witnessed 37 homicides in September, compared to 31 in the same month last year.

Tuggle says to combat the violence he is adding 128 officers, including sergeants and lieutenants, to patrol the city, suspending leave, and working with federal partners for the next three days.

“And I want folks to understand that this most recent deployment is meant to do that, it is meant to show a presence, also serve as a deterrent,” says Tuggle.

Tuggle is also asking residents calling 911 for non-emergencies to report their grievances over the phone or at a local police district.

“Rather than having a police officer show up, and that will free up those officers to patrol more aggressively,” says Tuggle.

The City Council is expected to hold a hearing later this month on whether to reinstate a surveillance plane to assist in combating violence.