BALTIMORE — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced millions of dollars in funding and a series of initiatives and legislation proposals to fight crime in Baltimore City.
In the upcoming fiscal year, Hogan said he would release funding for 25 new prosecutors and support staff for the State Attorney General. The funding comes after Hogan back in September directed the Attorney General's Office to investigate and prosecute violent gun and organized crime in Baltimore.
“We will use the additional resources announced by Governor Hogan today to continue our collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners to fight crime in Baltimore City. We have worked with Mayor Young and the Baltimore City Police Department, State’s Attorney Mosby, and multiple federal partners to prosecute gang violence and other drug and firearms trafficking in Baltimore City over the last several years, and supporting those efforts with more resources will help us make additional progress. We recognize, however, that prosecutors are only one part of the solution. My office will continue to work on multiple fronts to address poverty, lack of adequate housing and health care, and other problems that contribute to the root causes of crime. We must also work to reform criminal justice policies that have too often had a disparate impact on communities in Baltimore, and that exacerbate the underlying cycles of poverty and lack of economic opportunity," said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh
Hogan said he also planned to provide $9.2 million in funding to increase community policing efforts; $4.6 million for the Baltimore Police Department’s records and lab information management systems, and license plate reader technology; $2.4 million for the Baltimore Police Academy's new location; and $1.9 million for the State’s Attorney’s Office for gun violence prosecution.
“Keeping Marylanders safe is my responsibility, and I’m going to keep providing the City with all the state and federal assistance and backup we possibly can in order to attack this violent crime crisis from all directions with everything we’ve got,” said Governor Hogan. “But I’m also going to keep holding City leaders accountable and ensure that we are working together and using every tool and resource at our disposal to track down, arrest, convict, and bring these violent criminals to justice. The time has come for Baltimore City to finally take back its streets and communities once and for all.”
It was also revealed that the Department of Juvenile Services and Baltimore City formed a strategic partnership to curb youth violence in the City. As part of the agreement, Juvenile Services will align case management resources with Baltimore City police districts to create a better service delivery model. The collaboration will also develop a stronger youth accountability process to appropriately intervene and provide services and supervision.
“I am excited to work together with our Baltimore City partners to enhance and create new initiatives that will ensure the successful support of our young people and the community,” said DJS Secretary Sam Abed. “DJS is committed in reducing the number of violent youth crimes through the work of this collaboration.”
“I would like to personally thank Governor Hogan and the General Assembly for releasing existing funds, as well as for funding additional targeted investments critical to public safety in Baltimore,: said Baltimore Mayor Jack Young. "I am appreciative that the Governor and his administration worked with us to help fund the relocation of the police training academy and now have funded the remaining technology requests that are critical to building the necessary capacity to fight crime. I am also thrilled to be working more closely with the Department of Juvenile Services for a new strategic partnership to curb youth violence in Baltimore. This partnership will help us better identify and activate the ecosystem of services and resources available to help our young people,” Young said.
The Governor also released details of crime legislation he will introduce in the 2020 legislative session.
Proposals include the Violent Firearm Offenders Act which aims to increase tougher sentences for violent offenders who commit gun crimes.
The legislation would increase penalties for: (1) those who repeatedly illegally carry firearms and for convicted gang members who illegally possess guns; (2) those who illegally transfer guns to people they know intend to use them in a crime; and (3) those who steal firearms, possess stolen firearms, or engage in straw purchasing.
Governor Hogan will re-introduce the Judicial Transparency Act, requiring the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy to publish sentencing records of judges in violent crime cases to hold the system more accountable to the public for sentencing decisions.
Additionally, Hogan will introduce the Witness Intimidation Prevention Act to toughen penalties for witness intimidation resulting in serious physical injury or death, and expand the court's ability to admit statements made by intimidated witnesses under certain circumstances to all crimes.
Finally, the Governor will introduce a measure to prioritize victims and make restitution payments mandatory.
Baltimore City State's Attorney, Marilyn Mosby released a statement regarding Hogans proposals.
Maryland's broken juvenile justice system too often fails to address the needs of our most vulnerable youth and I am encouraged by Governor Hogan's willingness to address this important issue. But unfortunately, I also have major concerns regarding his decision to replicate status quo failed policies from the past that pour money into law enforcement-only approaches. Similar approaches such as, the Crime Bill of 1994, have led to mass incarceration without a sustainable reduction in crime. We cannot solely police our way out of crime without addressing the root causes as to why crimes take place.
As I stated in my letter addressed to the Governor in September, we must work collaboratively and thoughtfully to reduce crime and violence, and I will continue to fight for funding for holistic approaches that aggressively and directly addresses the circumstances that are endemic to crime and violence.
If we are going to see a safer city and make progress on reducing the level of crime in Baltimore, all vested partners must work together and dismantle the silos and protracted bureaucracy that stifles collaboration and creativity. As State's Attorney, I remain fully committed to working with the Governor, the Attorney General, the Mayor, the BPD, our federal partners and the community to find real solutions to crime in our city.