BALTIMORE — When it comes to violence in Baltimore City, the state has done a lot from bringing in state law enforcement agencies to helping get violent offenders off the streets, to helping bolster the staff of Baltimore police.
However, with another year of more than 300 murders, many of which have gone unsolved, Gov. Larry Hogan said more needs to be done.
"The level of violence in Baltimore City is completely unacceptable," Hogan said during a press conference Tuesday where he launched several initiatives to address violent crimes in Baltimore City.
"We're launching a Violent Crime Joint Operation Center in Baltimore city," Hogan said. "This state of the art facility will serve as a nexus for a new coordinated offensive to go after violent crime, gangs and criminal enterprises."
The center will house a major joint strike force consisting of 200 law enforcement officers from 16 federal, state and local law enforcement and proprietorial agencies. Seven federal, state and local joint task forces will operate from the operations center, including the violent crime and gang eradication forces of the DEA, ATF, Baltimore Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, and the U.S. Marshals Services.
The Governor also announced an expansion of Project Exile, which enables federal prosecutors to charge repeat violent offenders. To facilitate the expansion, the governor is providing additional funds to the U.S. Attorney's Office to hire new members who will exclusively charge violent repeat offenders.
Hogan said his administration also plans to introduce two pieces of legislation during the General Assembly's 90-day session. One will be the reintroduction of the Repeat Firearms Offenders Act of 2019, which will increase the minimum sentence to ten years for repeat offenders who use a gun to commit a crime. The second is called the Judicial Transparency Act of 2019. It will require the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy to publish detailed information on sentences handed down by judges for violent crimes. This way, the public can see how the courts are handling cases with violent criminals.
More than $2 million in funding from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention for the Victim and Witness Relocation Program and $50 million will fund requests received from victim service providers across the state.
Finally, the governor wants to continue support to bolster the Baltimore Police Department. Currently, the state provides $7 million dollars for 75 police officers. Hogan plans to offer more funding from the Fiscal Year 2020 budget for recruitment incentives for the department.