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Baltimore Council members demand short-term crime plan ahead of budget hearings

Posted at 6:35 PM, May 19, 2022

BALTIMORE — Six Baltimore City Council members sent letters to three agency heads leading the city’s crime fight.

They included Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Michael Harrison, Director Shantay Jackson, leading MONSE, as well as State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

The addressee, District 11 Councilman Eric Costello, on Thursday rehashed the heartbreak in the headlines apart of the Ways and Means Committee’s public outcry for help.

“We had a 17-year-old young man who was killed after celebrating his junior prom, we had 60 gun shots fired in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the middle of the day and we had a pregnant woman and her fiancé murdered,” Costello said.

Baltimore Crime Conversation: Prosecution plus crime prevention

The first letter to Baltimore Police Department requests data on the total number of officers on the street and sworn officers who aren’t.

It's also a plan for using overtime to increase visability and increase clearance rates and case closures for homicides shootings and auto thefts among several other requests.

“People are calling our offices crying out and it’s time that the police department sit down and give us an immediate plan. It’s the responsibility of the police department,” District 6 Council Vice-President Sharon Green Middleton said.

“One community in my district they been shooting killing people for over 40 years. They’re still shooting and killing people. This city needs some help. This police department needs some help,” Councilman Robert Stokes said.

The letter to the States Attorney's office demands the office’s plan for staffing.

Councilman Costello noted several prosecutorial units were understaffed for supervisors and line prosecutors by more than 50 percent, including gun violence enforcement, major investigations and narcotics units.

“The staffing levels at the states attorney’s office are something that are critically important. We need to make sure we have the appropriate number of supervisors and line ASAs in order to prosecute the cases that BPD is bringing to the table,” said Costello.

The final letter addressed the director of the mayors office of neighborhood and safety engagement which received millions of dollars.

“Specifically $50,300,000 of which it was reported to the council only $75,000 has been expended to date,” Costello said.

The committee wants a detailed explanation on how the $50 million will be programmed—the jobs within the office, their descriptions and along with whether the positions are filled or vacant.

They also requested the status of the Group Violence Reduction Strategy that was rolled out last year which received more than $13.6 million.

MONSE also oversees the city’s camera network of more than 750 cameras while the letter indicates almost 130 don’t work.

Council members set a June 3 deadline for the plans they requested but stopped short of outlining potential outcomes if they don’t receive them.

Mayor Scott’s office released a statement in response to the request saying in part: “Sustainably reducing violence isn’t easy, and despite what some people would have us believe, there is no quick fix or magic button that will stop people from shooting each other overnight. As the Council is keenly aware, I remain focused on doing everything in my power to address the violence that takes residents away from their families and loved ones and traumatizes communities throughout Baltimore.”