ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan Tuesday said he’s prepared to offer Baltimore an additional $21 million in state support to help fight crime in the city if leaders submit quarterly reports outlining their progress in making the city safer.
The announcement came in a letter from Hogan’s office to Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.
In the letter, Hogan called addressing violent crime “the single most urgent issue facing Baltimore City.” He said while the recently-announced crime plan takes some steps in the right direction, “much of what you are proposing represents the status quo and is already being done or has been tried before.”
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Last month, Hogan, Young and Harrison met in the city to come up with ways to reduce violent crime.
The governor said the city needs to commit to accountability and transparency in its crime prevention and solving efforts and wants leaders to set “aggressive” goals, including a goal of fewer than 200 homicides in the city annually.
So far this year, there have been 241 homicides in Baltimore, nearly 40 more than this time last year.
Hogan also called for tougher sentences for repeat offenders and the immediate implementation of a controversial “eye in the sky” program that would put surveillance planes in the skies over the city.
Harrison said last month he would not support such a program, despite an offer from Texas philanthropists John and Laura Arnold to cover its costs.
The governor also said ten state police helicopters would be allowed to “conduct tactical flights whenever their duties bring them into or near the city.”
When asked about Hogan’s letter Tuesday night, Young said he hadn’t yet seen it but said he believed the crime plan currently in place is working.
City Council President Brandon Scott there are areas of agreement and disagreement between local leaders and the state.
“We agree in principle but the devil’s in the details,” Scott said. “We have to make sure we are actually doing things that benefit and bring down the violence in Baltimore and not doing things for political stands.”
Local residents had mixed reviews about Hogan’s plan.
“It should be safer for everyone because we all want to enjoy Baltimore, so yeah, I believe it should be a lot safer for everyone,” Billy Wilson said.
City resident Anthony Rodgers said he doesn’t think air surveillance is enough to rid the city of its crime problems.
“I think there needs to be more involvement with public safety in the communities […] because they could get a hundred helicopters; that’s not going to stop the crime,” he said.