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Hogan pledging to boost police funding by another $500M

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday said his coming budget will propose $500 million in aid to police around the state over the next three years.

The additional money is part of what the second-term Republican calls a “re-fund the police” initiative as well as two bills previously introduced by Hogan. Those bills, including enhanced penalties for repeat violent offenders, have met with resistance in the House of Delegates.

“Nationally, the mood has changed dramatically on getting tough on crime,” said Hogan. “It seems everywhere in the country they’re starting to get tough on crime. Maybe it’s time for the House of Delegates here in Maryland to do the same.”

Hogan’s press conference highlighted initiatives previously announced in October. The Republican executive pegged the proposals, however, to a new eye-popping budget number.

Hogan and lawmakers will enter the 2022 session with historic budget surpluses exceeding $5 billion over two years.

In October, Hogan announced he would pump $150 million into law enforcement. His plan called for $50 million to go toward salaries and bonuses for police and another $45 million in direct aid to agencies around the state. An extra $24 million would be set aside for training and $10 million to buy equipment such as body cameras.

Hogan’s proposal now calls for more than triple the original cost over three years. The announcement did not contain specifics. Hogan said that would be forthcoming when he sends his budget to lawmakers next week.

About $220 million would fund “historic” salary increases and bonuses for police officers, said Hogan.

The expanded plan adds $137 million to local police with legislation to make the increase permanent.

All of those, plus bills to increase judicial transparency and enhance penalties for repeat violent offenders, were previously announced and introduced in earlier legislative sessions.

“This is the time we have to get it done,” said Hogan. “There really are no more excuses.” 

Hogan said another $50 million — not previously announced — would pay for capital projects including state police barracks and a new building for the State Police’s tactical services division.

Hogan said spikes in crime “come to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement.”

The governor has encountered difficulties in passing his anti-crime bills in the General Assembly. He acknowledged passage wouldn’t guarantee changes.

“There’s no question there’s something going on that’s more than law enforcement, and it’s not just happening in Prince George’s County or Baltimore city. It’s happening all across America,” said Hogan. “I don’t know if the steps we’re taking are going to change that, but not doing anything, not taking every step we can, would be a terrible mistake.

But Hogan said “some of it is not going to be under our control.”

Hogan also announced a new effort to track warrants on violent offenders on parole.

Lawmakers in recent weeks have criticized the governor’s efforts to blame Baltimore city officials, including State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, by charging that the state parole and probation officers are not doing enough to supervise released offenders.

“Parole and probation officers don’t have the ability to make arrests or issue warrants,” said Hogan. “In far too many cases, frequently in Baltimore City, warrants are quashed by judges and those that are issued are not prioritized by the beleaguered local police.”

Hogan later told reporters that he could not immediately back up his claims with data.

Hogan Monday directed the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to track all open warrants. He said the effort would begin in the highest crime ZIP codes in Baltimore.

The tracking would “hold judges accountable and help local law enforcement get more of these offenders off the streets,” Hogan said.