Mayor Catherine Pugh on Wednesday said her initial opposition to a state commission investigating the Gun Trace Task Force was that it would be “duplicative” of efforts by federal prosecutors and the city’s own police monitoring team, but she would not ask Gov. Larry Hogan to veto the legislation.
“I understand they will have additional powers,” Pugh said, referring to the commissioners who will eventually be tapped for the investigation. “I’m not sure how much more power they’ll have than the federal government already has, or what the monitoring team that we have in place [has].”
Pugh said during her weekly press conference that she told Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore), the author of the bill creating the commission, that she would rather have “a conversation about what I want to do, not what was already done.”
But the mayor followed that up by saying she would not make any effort to derail the legislation. When questioned by the media if she would ask Hogan to veto the bill, Pugh responded, “No, why would I do that?”
Ferguson’s bill, which gained other Baltimore sponsors in Sens. Joan Carter Conway, Shirley Nathan-Pulliam and Barbara Robinson, sailed through the Senate last week, 46-0. It was approved in the House of Delegates on Monday with a vote of 137-0.
The 46th District senator told WJZ-TV’s Mike Hellgren that having a commission with subpoena powers to compel testimony would help get to the bottom of how this unit of eight officers managed to rob citizens of cash and drugs.
All eight have either pleaded guilty or been convicted on federal charges of robbery, racketeering and other crimes. The commission, Ferguson told the network, will try to make sure it never happens again.
“Until we can restore trust in the police, it’s going to be difficult for us to really significantly tackle the issue of crime.”