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Pugh seeks state assistance in reducing violence

Bryan P. Sears//July 10, 2017

Pugh seeks state assistance in reducing violence

By Bryan P. Sears

//July 10, 2017

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh talks with reporters afrter meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan Monday to discuss ways to combat violence in the city. (Bryan P. Sears)
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh talks with reporters after meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan Monday to discuss ways to combat violence in the city. (Bryan P. Sears)

ANNAPOLIS — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh expressed hope Monday that she could secure state assistance for Baltimore, a city increasingly beleaguered by escalated and record violence.

Pugh met with Gov. Larry Hogan for about 45 minutes to discuss her plan and to ask for additional resources, including improved technology and potentially the use of state law enforcement within the city.

“What I came to do was to present the governor with our plan on how we intend to reduce violence in our city,” Pugh said.

Pugh praised Hogan for meeting with her saying, that he has been responsive whenever she has made a request.

The mayor provided a broad outline of her discussion with Hogan but did not provide specifics of a plan she said she hopes to have in place sometime next month.

“It’s the technology, it’s the strategy of focusing on areas where violence is at its highest and focusing those resources on those areas,” Pugh said.

“I came away with commitment that we will work together to collaborate and reduce violence in the city of Baltimore,” Pugh said, adding that she expects another meeting “in the next couple of weeks or so.”

Hogan did not speak to the press following the meeting with Pugh.

“Governor Hogan and Mayor Pugh had a very informative, frank, and productive discussion today about Baltimore City’s serious crime and homicide rate,” Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill, a Hogan spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The administration will continue supporting and working with the mayor, local law enforcement, and all city leadership to combat this crisis and help ensure the safety and well-being of city residents.”

Pugh told reporters that she was looking to other cities including Chicago and Los Angeles for how to reduce the violence in Baltimore.

“I also mentioned to (Hogan) that I have been, for the last six months, looking at best practices around the nation,” Pugh said. “We looked at cities that have reduced crime and done a very good job.”

Chicago, which is also experiencing record levels of violence, recorded 14 homicides and nearly 90 shootings over the July 4 holiday. Despite those numbers, Pugh said, Chicago is seeing violence come down. She said policy experts from that city are expected to come to Baltimore to detail what is working there.

Los Angeles, Pugh said, has seen a five-year reduction in violent crime.

Additionally, Pugh said, she was hoping to expand the use of technology, including gunshot detection equipment, expanded use of surveillance cameras and automatic license plate readers. The plan would also include greater enforcement of parole and probation violations and potentially additional juvenile justice help.

The mayor did not say how much those requests might cost or how much she hoped to receive from the state.

“We’ll evaluate the costs and get back together on that,” Pugh said.

Another component of the plan would be legislation for the 2018 General Assembly session that would make possession of an illegal firearm a felony, but only in Baltimore City. The city has unsuccessfully sought a similar change in recent sessions.

Anthony McCarthy, a Pugh spokesman, said the city would seek to have the change apply only to Baltimore City, hoping that making it jurisdiction specific rather than statewide would make the bill more acceptable to lawmakers.

Another meeting has not been set but Pugh said she planned to implement her ideas sometime in August.

More than 180 people have been murdered in the city in 2017 — the most in 25 years.

With more than 180 murders so far, the city is on pace again to reach the 300-homicide mark for the third consecutive year, a tally that includes the death of the brother of Baltimore City Police Spokesman T.J. Smith.

Baltimore is also seeing a spikes in non-fatal shootings, street robberies and assaults, including one lunch-time incident involving a deputy Baltimore City health commissioner who oversees anti-violence programs.

Last month, Democratic state Sens. Kathy Klausmeier, Baltimore County, and James C. Rosapepe, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, called on Hogan to declare a state of emergency in the city and possibly use the National Guard to augment city law enforcement efforts.

Others have suggested expanded use of other state law enforcement agencies, including the Maryland State Police, MDTA police and MTA police.

McCarthy added that the governor detailed some ideas that he had to reduce city violence during the meeting with Pugh but could not provide details.

“Everything is on the table,” McCarthy said.

Hogan has already nixed some ideas.

In an appearance last week on WBAL radio, Hogan announced his meeting with Pugh and discussed the rising violence and state aid that is already sent to the city.

But Hogan said he was not considering using state troopers in the city.



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