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Hogan announces $150M in police funding, renews spat with Democrats

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan called for a “re-funding” of police and announced he would send more than $150 million to departments around the state. 

Hogan offered sharp criticism of local leaders — especially in Baltimore city — and in Congress as well as an ongoing national discussion about incidents of police brutality and misconduct. The state aid would be used to help departments hire officers, pay for body cameras and de-escalation training as well as grants for safety improvements and victim’s services. 

“We cannot defund the police. We need to re-fund the police. Instead of less funding, we need more investment in public safety,” said Hogan. 

“Cutting funding and reducing resources, reducing the number of police officers, reducing training and the quality of police officers is not the answer. I can tell you the state of Maryland will not defund the police as long as I am governor. Instead, we are going to re-fund the police.” 

House Speaker Adrienne Jones chaffed at what she called Hogan’s attempt to brand his announcement as “re-funding” police.

“The governor’s misguided rhetoric of ‘re-fund the police’ is beneath him and the dignity of his office,” Jones, the state’s first woman and Black presiding officer, said in a statement. “The Maryland General Assembly is requiring body cameras for better transparency, providing better police training and increasing accountability to make communities safer while the Governor’s own agencies are cutting critical funding for victim services. The House stands ready to have an open and honest conversation about improving policing and reducing crime in the State once there are real ideas — not rhetoric.

“His attempt to politicize the critical work that the legislature has already done to have more transparent and inclusive law enforcement does nothing to move our State forward.”

Senate President Bill Ferguson, in a statement, said public safety efforts must also include attention to social and education issues as well as additional police officers. 

“Nothing is more important than ensuring public safety throughout the State,” said Ferguson. “Enhancing law enforcement trust and effectiveness is an important objective to create that safety. We have and we will continue to support investments that enhance trust and safety.  We also know, however, that police are just one part of creating safe communities. Genuinely improving public safety isn’t about just writing a bigger check.” 

Hogan, surrounded by police from jurisdictions around the state, announced he will spend an additional $150 million on public safety. The increased funding is part of a series of upcoming public safety announcements Hogan teased Friday. 

Maryland, like many other states, is enjoying a large budget surplus, swollen by large infusions of federal pandemic aid and higher-than-anticipated tax revenues.

Hogan said the largest tranche of money will go directly to law enforcement agencies. 

Hogan announced he will earmark an additional $45 million in state aid to local police departments. Another $50 million will go to pay salary increases and hiring bonuses to departments. An additional $24 million will be set aside for de-escalation and other training as well as helping to pay for body cameras for local departments. 

Hogan said he will also set aside an additional $10 million in community grants for lighting, cameras and other needs. The grants will be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. 

The state will also match dollar-for-dollar for all rewards offered through Metro Crimestoppers. 

Another $20 million will go to victim services. Hogan said the money would make up for cuts made at the state and federal level. 

During the news conference, Hogan painted a picture of rising crime in cities across the country and beleaguered police departments beset by staffing issues and low public confidence because of highly publicized incidents of misconduct and brutality. 

“Sadly, the unconscionable actions of a few have been used to demean and question the character of all law enforcement officers and to fuel an all-out assault of the entire law enforcement community,” said Hogan. 

“Trying to reduce crime by defunding police is dangerous radical far-left lunacy. Thinking that you can improve law enforcement by defunding the police is like saying you want to improve education by defunding the schools. It’s absurd and ridiculous.” 

Hogan turned closer to home, leveling criticism at the leaders in Baltimore, which is closing in on its seventh consecutive year with 300 or more murders. 

Hogan also criticized calls by City Councilman Ryan Dorsey to disband the Baltimore City Police Department. Hogan did not name Dorsey directly. 

“Violent crime is out of control in Baltimore City,” he said. 

“The city of Baltimore is a poster child for the basic failure to stop lawlessness. There’s a prosecutor who refuses to prosecute crime and there’s a revolving door of repeat offenders who are being let right back out onto the streets to shoot people again and again.” 

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, in a statement said violent crime reduction is a “top priority and a primary objective” in the city.

“Governor Hogan’s persistent reliance on uninformed rhetoric understates the value of ongoing comprehensive public safety efforts under my leadership,” Scott said. “Tackling violence in Baltimore requires vast coordination among state and federal partners, not tactless finger pointing. I’m reminded of this fact every time a homicide victim is found wearing an ankle monitor, or law enforcement apprehends a murder suspect only to arrest them again months later for an illegal handgun.”

Scott called on Hogan to use part of the state’s $2.5 billion surplus on filling open positions in the state Department of Corrections and Public Safety.

“Simply dispensing money will not solve anything unless that investment is met with real leadership, accountability, and the willingness to make tough decisions,” said Scott.

Ferguson, in his statement, expressed disappointment in Hogan’s tone. 

“A real effort to stop violence and make communities safe requires a coordinated plan that gets executed purposely every day,” said Ferguson. “It also includes strategies that recognize poverty and opportunity shape the outcome of individuals. Divisive rhetoric does not make us safer, and we hope the Administration will join us moving forward to focus on problem solving. Communities deserve targeted, thoughtful, and data-driven approaches, and the Maryland General Assembly will continue doing that work.” 

 

 

 

  

  

  

  

 

 

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