Crime Becoming an Issue in the Race for Governor

(WMAR) - So far in 2018, there's been 244 homicides in Baltimore City, nearly one a day.  And the rate of killings has been increasing over the past month.

Residents have also told us they've seen a rise in things like car break-ins, robberies and assaults in their neighborhoods, and now the city is set to welcome its fourth police commissioner in less than 12 months.  Crime is an ongoing problem that has gotten the attention of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

“We certainly need more leadership at the city level and I'm pleased to hear that they're about to make a decision by the end of the month on a police commissioner,” Gov. Hogan said.

 

And 2018 is also an election year.  Hogan leads his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous by as much as 20 percentage points in the polls.

On the campaign trail, Jealous is talking about crime - and not just in Baltimore City.
 
“In the 23 counties of our state, taking the city out of the equation, murders are up over the last four years,” Jealous said.

 

In Governor Hogan's first year in office - 2014 - there were 363 murders in the state of Maryland.  Of those, 211 were in Baltimore City.

Official numbers for 2017 are not available yet.  But in 2016, the total number of murders in the state had risen to 534, with 318 in Baltimore City.

 

The city's increase - punctuated by the unrest after the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, is about 50 percent.

But, as Jealous says, murders in the other 23 counties are up too.  The number of "non-Baltimore City" murders rose from 152 in 2014, to 216 in 2016, a 42 percent increase.
 
“Murder is a problem outside of Baltimore City,” Jealous said.  “The governor likes to keep talking about Baltimore City, perhaps because he doesn't want people to focus on what's happening outside the city.”
 
Jealous says programs like Safe Streets should be fully implemented where needed, and homicide units should be expanded, to get murderers off the streets.
 
And he's argued that full legalization of marijuana would remove the focus from non-violent drug offenders, while raising money for pre-kindergarten education.
 
“We know that every dollar you invest in making sure children show up to kindergarten ready to learn pays dividends for years. And we also know that every state that has legalized cannabis has seen its murders go down,” Jealous said.
 
Governor Hogan says state police have been doing more visibility patrols in Baltimore City,
 
“We've had two mayors and four police commissioners, lots of turmoil and upheaval. I think it's about time for us to get us some stability there and to get somebody really focused on organization and moving forward and making progress,” Gov. Hogan said.
 
And he says more help is coming, from the state and 12 federal agencies - to address gangs and violence, a so-called “strike force” that he says will be in place by the end of 2018.
 
“It's probably the number one concern we have, not just for the City of Baltimore but for the state. The violent crime here is not acceptable,” Gov. Hogan said.
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