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Scott fires back at Hogan over crime policy criticism

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott says Gov. Larry Hogan has failed to offer the city any “meaningful help” in solving its yearslong problem of high violent crime rates. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott called a letter from Gov. Larry Hogan criticizing efforts to reduce violent crime “publicity games.”

Scott’s response, sent late Thursday night, calls on the Republican executive to visit the city for a briefing on crime reduction efforts. The mayor also lays at least some of the blame for crime on Hogan’s desk.

“I am confused by the governor’s letter and request,” Scott said in a statement. “First and foremost, if the governor wanted to ask me about the crime fight, he could have asked me in person on Saturday but he chose not to and instead played publicity games with public safety. Moreover, since he’s taken office, two things are true: He has refused to offer any meaningful help, and crime has gone up every year.”

On Thursday Hogan released a two-page letter to Scott on social media. In it, the second-term Republican demanded Scott account for how state funds are being spent on public safety. Hogan also requested a comprehensive update on the implementation of the mayor’s crime plan.

“In February you assured us that there was a comprehensive plan in place, but at this point I do not believe anyone — including you – believes it is working,” Hogan wrote. “The state funded every single one of the requests you made when we met.”

Hogan and Scott met in February to discuss violent crime in the city. Following that meeting, Scott issued a statement calling it “productive.”

In his letter, Scott said the city is showing some results.

In February, at the time the mayor and governor met, the city was 28% above the number of homicides for the same time the year before and reported 255 more nonfatal shootings for the same period.  Scott wrote that the city is now just 2.4% ahead of the number of homicides in 2021 and reporting 8.3% more nonfatal shootings for the same period.

The mayor also said gun seizures, violent gun seizures and the homicide clearance rate are all up “and we are clearing warrants quicker than we did in 2021.”

Hogan during his time in office has shown little patience with city officials related to crime-fighting efforts. He has frequently criticized mayors and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby as well as judges for the high rate of violent crime.

Hogan was sworn in as governor in January 2015.  Over the last seven years, the city has recorded 300 or more homicides annually. In 145 days in 2022, the city has reported 128 murders, setting a pace for an eighth consecutive year of 300-plus homicides.

Also during that time, the city has had four different mayors and five different police commissioners.

It’s not just Hogan who has questioned Scott’s crime-fighting efforts. A week ago, six city council members held a news conference and sent a letter to the city police department calling for a short-term plan for dealing with violent crime to be developed and made public by early June.

Scott wrote that Hogan has failed to offer help to the city and does not understand the efforts to fight crime.

“I invite Governor Hogan to visit Baltimore so that we can show him the full extent of our work and make sure he understands the pressing need within our communities to build a safer Baltimore truly,” wrote Scott.