As the number of shootings and homicides has surged in Baltimore, some police officers say they feel hesitant on the job under intense public scrutiny and in the wake of criminal charges against six officers in the Freddie Gray case, reports the Baltimore Sun.

State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby's decision last week to charge the officers has stoked strong opinions across the country — including praise from those who want accountability and derision from some legal experts.

But perhaps the most jarring effect has been on the Baltimore Police Department.

"In 29 years, I've gone through some bad times, but I've never seen it this bad," said Lt. Kenneth Butler, president of the Vanguard Justice Society, a group for black Baltimore police officers. Officers "feel as though the state's attorney will hang them out to dry."

Several officers said in interviews they are concerned crime could spike as officers are hesitant to do their jobs, and criminals sense opportunity. Lt. Kenneth Butler, a shift commander in the Southern District, said his officers are expressing reluctance to go after crime.

City Councilman Brandon M. Scott said he doesn't believe officers are treading too cautiously on the job, but he acknowledged that the stress from protests, rioting and federal investigations is wearing on police, as is fatigue for officers who worked 14- and 15-hour days several days in a row during the unrest.

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