Federal, state and local law enforcement officials gathered in Baltimore Friday to tout more than 100 arrests made during a recent joint operation targeting violent offenders, but they struggled to explain how the arrests would improve public safety amid the city’s relentless cycle of shootings.
The group assembled to announced the results of Operation Washout II, a two-week multi-agency operation that focused on violent offenders, gang members and gun crimes. The operation netted 104 arrests among people who were already wanted for crimes, including five homicide arrests, nine attempted homicide arrests, 15 robbery arrests and 28 firearm-related arrests.
Three firearms were seized during the operation and four “known gang associates” were among those arrested, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, which organized Friday’s press conference.
But the law enforcement officials present could offer few additional details, including which gangs the alleged offenders were part of and how many of those arrested were repeat violent offenders.
Members of the news media also were not provided with the identities of most of the people who were arrested, or what charges they face. The U.S. Marshals Service referred a request for the list to the Baltimore Police Department. The department first referred the request back to the marshals before ultimately providing the information late Friday.
Among those in attendance Friday were Gov. Larry Hogan, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and U.S. Marshal Johnny L. Hughes.
Harrison said that the arrests made as part of Operation Washout II would have a deterrent effect by taking violent offenders off the streets and discouraging others from participating in the violence.
“Those are investigations that we’re working on to identify those perpetrators, so that when we identify them, with the help of the community, we can put out warrants for them and go and pick them up,” he said. “The individuals that were picked up in this operation had active warrants already.”
“What we know is that the people who we put in jail, should they stay in jail, they will not be committing more violence in the streets,” Harrison said.
No representatives from the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office were present at Friday’s press conference. U.S. Attorney Erek Barron also was not present, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hanlon, who heads the office’s criminal division, was in attendance.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is currently under federal indictment. She faces allegations that she committed perjury and made false statements on loan applications.
Her relationship with Hogan has also been tense. Hogan has accused Mosby of being soft on violent criminals; Mosby has pushed back and defended her office’s track record of convictions.
No one at Friday’s press conference explained why Mosby’s office was not represented.
“We made sure we did our job. We picked them up, we arrested them,” Harrison said of the alleged offenders. “Now we have to make sure that we put together good criminal cases that will make it all the way through the criminal justice system.”