BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Inside a packed Baltimore City Hall council chambers, Baltimore’s mayor touted dropping violence rates during her second “State of the City” address on Monday.
Mayor Catherine Pugh says violent crime is dropping, but she added that the city has a long way to go, and funding the fight on crime is still her top priority.
For the second time since taking the city’s top office, Pugh laid out her plan for the year to come in front of a standing room only crowd inside city hall.
The first half of her speech focused on the fight against violent crime.
She did not shy away from the disgraced and dismantled gun task force that’s rattled trust in the Baltimore Police Department.
“The evidence made clear that some of the members of our police department were criminals themselves,” she said.
She says 2018 will bring a change not only in policing, but police technology, with computers installed in all patrol cars by the end of the month, and a new top cop in charge.
“It takes a collective effort,” Baltimore PD Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said. “She has a great vision, a great vision for the city.”
De Sousa was sitting nearby as Pugh touted plunging crime rates in the new year, with the number of shootings dipping 40 percent.
Her next step is getting the money to tear down vacant houses where criminals hide.
She also called on the police union to allow two civilians to serve on the police trial board.
“All of us want the same thing, a safe city and a police department we can all be proud of,” Pugh said.
Moving from cops to classrooms, Pugh highlighted education as both a priority and part of her long-term crime plan.
“New buildings alone will not solve the myriad of problems facing our schools,” she added.
Her comments come on the heels of controversy after the national spotlight turned on Baltimore’s public schools in January.
Baltimore City Public Schools drawing heat for the lack of heat that left students shivering in classrooms, and eventually forced a district-wide shutdown.
One of many city scandals in 2017 that Pugh says will not carry into 2018.
Despite too much national attention, we know our city, known for its irresistible charm, is so much more,” Pugh said.
She also talked about job creation, urging employers to hire young people, adding “hanging on the corner is not an option.”
Pugh touched on new infrastructure, saying new lights, sidewalks, and bike lanes are coming in order to create a more walkable and welcoming Baltimore.