With no signs of violence slowing in Baltimore at the end of 2017, Maryland’s governor plans to send in U.S. Marshals, state troopers and probation and parole officers to assist city law enforcement, and to ramp up demolition of vacant properties in crime-riddled areas, among other strategies.
“Let me be crystal clear,” Larry Hogan said at an afternoon press conference in Baltimore. “I have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for these repeat violent offenders and these criminal gangs causing lawlessness in our streets.”
Repeating the phrase “violent repeat offenders” many times, Hogan laid out his plan. Effective today, his administration has asked state troopers to assist city police and the sheriff’s department with serving “high-priority warrants,” and has assigned more than 200 state parole and probation officers to help law enforcement track down violators in every city precinct.
The feds are also in on the plan. The U.S. Marshals will conduct an “aggressive sweep across the city with 80 more U.S. marshals and federally designated federal task force officers,” Hogan said.
From a policy approach, the governor has doubled down on Project C.O.R.E., the program that knocks down vacant properties to prepare them for redevelopment. (Read about the old “Murder Mall” for a recent example.) Hogan said he’s asked the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development and the Maryland Stadium Authority to help the city find vacant properties in the highest-crime areas and then knock them down.
“We want to give these violent criminals fewer places to hide.”
Also included are inter-agency and inter-jurisdictional partnerships. Under an executive order, Hogan has established a Council on Gangs and Violent Criminal Networks, made up of 14 police department heads and state’s attorneys, including Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo will serve as chairman.
Another entity dubbed the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network will provide access to federal, state and local task force data to promote collaboration and “help law enforcement and prosecutors bring down violent criminal enterprises.”
Davis said in a statement he’s thankful for the chance to be a part of the council: “I know the Mayor and Governor are working collaboratively with the Baltimore Police Department to reduce violence in Baltimore. Designating additional state resources and enhancing ongoing initiatives are appreciated by me and the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department.”
Hogan continued the summertime talk of mandatory sentencing, a push that failed in the Baltimore City Council when Davis, Mayor Catherine Pugh and Council President Jack Young attempted to set minimum terms for those found illegally carrying firearms. (Following a tide of criticism, the council watered the bill down, and the version that Pugh signed included a mandatory fine for first-time offenders and mandatory terms for only second-time offenders or those caught with guns connected to a crime.)
The governor plans to introduce a “truth-in-sentencing” bill when the state legislature convenes next month. Such laws typically bar courts from handing out suspended sentences to repeat offenders, and eliminate the prospect of parole for good behavior. Other bills of his will target gangs and gun-related crimes.
Hogan has been fielding his truth-in-sentencing proposal since the summer, albeit with few details.
The governor said last week that he was working on his own plan to fight violence in Baltimore, citing concerns with Pugh’s failed campaign to reduce crime in her first year. Baltimore has recorded more than 920 shootings and 323 homicides as of this afternoon, both higher levels than at this point last year.
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