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Hogan offers Baltimore crime-fighting proposals, resources

Gov. Larry Hogan announces proposals to fight crime in Baltimore on Wednesday at a news conference. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Gov. Larry Hogan announces proposals to fight crime in Baltimore on Wednesday at a news conference. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Baltimore is in line to get additional resources as part of a series of crime-fighting proposals announced by Gov. Larry Hogan.

Hogan, in announcing proposals that include tougher sentences and services for some juvenile offenders as well as tracking sentences handed out by judges, vowed to fund additional attorneys and support staff assigned to the Office of the Maryland Attorney General.

The 20 attorneys and five staff positions would mainly focus on violent crime in Baltimore.

Hogan said the goal is to get repeat violent offenders of the street in a city that has surpassed 300 homicides for the fifth straight year.

“I am not the mayor of Baltimore,” said Hogan. “I am not the city’s police commissioner. I am not the city’s state’s attorney. But keeping Marylanders safe is my responsibility. I’m going to keep giving them all the state assistance and backup we possibly can in order to attack this violent crime crisis.”

Hogan made the announcement in Baltimore flanked by a number of his top police and criminal justice officials. No city government or state lawmakers were present.

None of the bills or proposals have yet been made public.

In September, the governor called on Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to prosecute more violent crime cases in the city. In response, a month later, Frosh wrote Hogan asking for 30 prosecutors to handle those cases.

Frosh, in a statement Wednesday, said he would use the additional resources to assist the city in crime reduction efforts but said long-term solutions require more than additional attorneys.

“We recognize, however, that prosecutors are only one part of the solution,” said Frosh. “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.”

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young issued a statement thanking the governor for his efforts.

“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,” Young said in his statement. “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.”

Included in Hogan’s proposals are:

  • Tougher sentences for violent crimes involving guns.
  • Tougher penalties for witness intimidation.
  • Legislation making restitution mandatory.
  • Creation of a system that would track judges and the sentences given to violent offenders.
  • An additional $21 million in state aid for Baltimore City, including relocating its police academy and the city state’s attorney’s office gun violence prosecution efforts.
  • Services for juvenile offenders, including early intervention to prevent children from becoming repeat violent offenders.

Hogan’s violent firearms offenders act is similar to efforts that failed in the legislature earlier this year. The bill would continue to target violent offenders and would double mandatory minimum sentences for repeat violent offenders. First-time offenders would be required to serve sentences consecutively.

Added this year, according to Hogan, will be provisions that increase penalties for persons who illegally carry a gun and for convicted gang members found in possession of a gun. The bill would also increase jail sentences for people who give a gun to another person knowing it would be used to commit a crime as well as for those who steal or possess stolen guns and those who engage in straw purchases of firearms.

 

 


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