For Immediate Release 12/7/16
In September, the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City (SAO) and the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) announced the creation of a joint unit dedicated to the elimination of gun violence in the City.
The Gun Violence Enforcement Division (GVED)—which features hand-selected prosecutors and detectives both co-located in the Sun Trust Building—officially launched on Monday, November 28, 2016 and has already participated in a joint training which will enhance both the investigation and prosecution phases.
“Typically, close collaboration across government agencies is a good sign,” GVED Chief Charles Blomquist said. “If we want to see a paradigm shift in violence prevention, we have to break the conventional molds of crime fighting. There’s a sense within this unit that we can really make an impact.”
GVED consists of a division chief, a team captain, and 11 prosecutors; as well as a sergeant and five detectives.
“At a time when our city is quickly approaching 300 homicides, we must do all we can to eradicate gun violence in our city,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “Commissioner Davis and I are devoting major resources and man power to this unit in an effort to strengthen cases at the investigative stage and ultimately take the strongest case possible to court. We understand that getting this right is literally a matter of life and death.”
GVED will rely heavily on intel provided by the newly created Crime Strategies Unit (CSU). Under previous administrations, there have been gun-focused units which focused on the offenses of felons in possession and attempted murders by firearm. However, this division will take a more individualized approach and focus on the offenses committed by violent gun offenders rather than merely the gun-related offense.
Mosby says this enterprise is completely reliant on the ability to share information between agencies about the people and the events connected to violence on our streets.
This week, prosecutors and detectives assigned to GVED attended a training hosted by BPD’s Firearms Unit, where they learned about the BPD’s use of force policy and how to properly handle a firearm in the courtroom. They also were trained on the “characteristics of an armed person,” which was particularly helpful to the prosecutors because of its implications in trial preparation. Understanding the characteristics of an armed person helps prosecutors with witness development before trial and testimony during trial. Also, it helps them to understand what arresting officers witnessed and are trying to communicate in their statements of probable cause.
"The Baltimore Police Department is committed to the fight against gun violence and our continued partnership with the States Attorney’s Office will ensure that the layers of checks and balances needed to assist our officers and detectives are in place," said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. "Presenting the strongest gun cases possible for prosecution is our collective, ultimate goal."