Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday the state will review grants to Baltimore’s top prosecutor as part of a renewed effort to immediately address violent crime.
The City of Baltimore reached 300 homicides this week. It’s the seventh consecutive year for the grim milestone. Hogan, who never mentioned Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby by name, described the review of state grants as more of a way of forcing compliance than about concerns regarding malfeasance.
“The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention has been compiling data all across the state with respect to sentencing,” said Hogan. “We haven’t gotten data from Baltimore City. This is going to require them to respond to the state before they get additional funding.”
Hogan said he was trying to avoid pointing fingers but actions announced at a news conference two days before Thanksgiving made it clear he continues to question leaders in Baltimore as well as the judiciary and even some lawmakers.
A fiery Mosby blasted Hogan. She called his press conference political grandstanding, charged he was using “Baltimore as a punching bag,” and that Hogan was privileged and that he was “disrespecting me again.”
“He’s especially OK with villainizing the Black woman prosecutor who’s challenging the status quo,” said Mosby.
Mosby said she is prosecuting violent crime and that her team is winning convictions. Mosby said she would have provided data Hogan if he’d asked her.
“I stand by the work of my office,” she said. “I’ll provide the governor anything he desires because I know how much my prosecutors do for this city.”
Much of the data the governor wants is published on the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s website, Mosby said.
The prosecutor expressed outrage at being the focus of Hogan’s attention yet again. She compared him to former President Donald Trump and said Hogan was focused only on mass incarcerations. Even so, Mosby expressed a willingness to work with the governor.
“I’m committed to even working with this governor,” she said.
Hogan’s announcement calls for an immediate review of grants to Mosby’s office. That review will be conducted by the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim’s Service. The review comes as Hogan expressed growing frustration about the inability of the state agency to collect sentencing data from the state prosecutor.
“We do put a lot of money into there. We just want to make sure the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth. We’re not really freezing it but doing an immediate review and we’re hopping we’ll get the cooperation we need out of the state’s attorney to resolve it. If not, it may get to the point where we have to withhold funding.”
Hogan said he has asked for a meeting with Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. That meeting will not include Mosby.
Scott, speaking to reporters Tuesday, said he sees progress on violent crime “every day.”
“I know we have a long way to go,” Scott said. “I’m not happy, but I want to say that also includes the governor.”
Scott said it will take “an unprecedented level of cooperation” between state and city governments to address violent crime. He blamed the media for “driving a wedge” between people.”
“That’s not going to benefit people,” said Scott. “When I have something to say to the governor I say it like a man to him.”
The governor also announced he will send three emergency bills to the General Assembly when lawmakers return in December.
Included in the package is legislation to increase penalties for those who use stolen guns in the commission of violent crimes as well as those who provide the weapons, including straw purchasers. Another bill would impose stiffer penalties for repeat violent offenders. Hogan said a third bill would mandate public transparency for judges who sentence violent offenders.
“The people have a right to know what (judges) are and are not doing,” said Hogan. “Let the judicial system oppose this bill. I think over 90% of people in Maryland support the bill and we’re going to push to get it done.”
All three bills have been introduced in previous years but have failed to make it out of the House of Delegates.
“This is not a new thing,” said Hogan. “The reason we are announcing it now is because we’re outraged by the last 10 days of violence in the city which is some of the most heart-wrenching I’ve seen in the seven years I’ve been here.”
Hogan said resolving crime problems in the city is not something that is within his “direct control or we already would have fixed it by now.”
Hogan also announced that $10 million in community safety grants he announced earlier this month would be made available immediately. He expanded the eligibility for those grants to more organizations, including churches.
Lawmakers plan to take up congressional redistricting, the election of a new treasurer and to vote on overrides of a number of Hogan’s vetoes from earlier this year. And while other bills may be submitted, there is no guarantee they will make it to a standing committee much less to the floor of the House or Senate.
Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said “public safety is a statewide issue and victims deserve real leadership, not just performative politics, from state government.”
Ferguson called on Hogan to take immediate action to increase coordination between state and local agencies, strengthen the Division of Parole and Probation and undertake efforts to address poverty and the underlying problems that cause crime.
“Unfortunately, we have seen only reactive calls to action from the governor thus far,” said Ferguson. “There are proactive solutions we can work together on now and we hope the governor sincerely comes to the table and takes more comprehensive actions going forward.”
Hogan, speaking at the news conference, acknowledged that violent crime is up nationally and in jurisdictions such as Prince George’s County. He said the violence is most acute in the state’s largest municipality.
Hogan said that while he agrees with those who say the city needs to focus on the societal roots of crime, Baltimore still needs to “arrest more, prosecute more, and sentence more to get the most violent criminals off the streets.”
“I think we’ve invested something like $5 billion into the city of Baltimore to address some of the root causes of crime. I’m concerned about people getting shot this week and this weekend. That doesn’t do anything to stop that.”