BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Another violent weekend in Baltimore forced the city’s police commissioner to address the public Sunday. Five people were killed and 10 people were injured in shootings across the city; 12 shootings reported on Saturday alone.
Commissioner Michael Harrison called the violence “deeply disturbing” and said detectives are working to find suspects in the crimes.
“I’ve been also working with our patrol division to redeploy our resources to include SWAT, canine and our traffic unit to the affected areas,” Harrison said.
Baltimore, plagued with violence, broke the city’s record of killings per capita in 2019 with 348 homicides in one year.
Officials say crime reduction must be a focus of the community as a whole, not just the police department. It’s also the top priority of some of Baltimore’s mayoral candidates.
WJZ’s Paul Gessler spoke to some of Baltimore’s 2020 mayoral candidates Monday about their crime reduction plans. The consensus among the candidates was that not enough is being done.
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who is seeking re-election, has said he alone can’t drive down crime. In addition to the community, he said his crime plan is up to the police commissioner to implement.
“I’m giving him every tool that he has in the toolbox to reduce crime in the city of Baltimore,” Young said.
After another weekend with multiple murders, Young’s opponents highlighted the need to reduce crime.
Thiru Vignarajah: “There’s no sense of urgency. There’s no concrete plan.”
Mary Washington: “We have to restore the peace.”
Brandon Scott: “We can not continue to allow this to happen.”
Sheila Dixon: “The police department, there has to be a sense of urgency, as well as customer service.”
During Dixon’s term as mayor, the city did not see a single year with more than 300 homicides. Each of the past five years, by comparison, has seen at least 300 murders.
She seized on that statistic, saying she knows how to address the issue.
“I have been able to show — based on my results — that we can reduce crime,” she said.
Scott, the current city council president, aims to cut homicides by 15 percent each year he’s in office.
“Not just how the police department can help you solve and cure this disease of gun violence, but the health department, the school system, Rec and Parks, employment development, every single agency,” he said.
Others have made similar promises; Vignarajah is pushing for increased surveillance in his 20-part plan.
“We have pledged to get murders below 200 in my first term or I won’t run again,” he said.
Washington said the solution needs to be community-driven.
“We just have to listen to them,” she said. “Right now, we have too many failed promises, failed programs, not the sense of urgency.”
Carlmichael “Stokey” Cannady said he’ll start with addressing poverty as a root cause of crime.
“They’re not just waking up saying, ‘Oh, I want to commit crime.’ There’s a reason why,” he said.
Former Baltimore City Police spokesperson T.J. Smith, whose brother Dionay was shot and killed inside his home in 2017, plans to focus on data and trauma.
“We know, there’s empirical evidence (that) hurt people hurt people,” Smith said. “If we continue to victimize and traumatize our communities, we’re going to get that outcome.”
Governor Larry Hogan also weighed in on the violence Monday, tweeting. “Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need action.”
READ MORE: Hogan’s ‘Tackling Violent Crime’ Plan
Hogan has also released a crime plan, which includes tougher sentences for violent offenders, a crackdown on witness intimidation and adding prosecutors.
Read more about the mayoral candidates’ crime plans below:
Catalina Byrd (R)
According to the Byrd4Baltimore website, Cat Byrd intends to “revamp” BPD Commissioner Michael Harrison’s crime plan and create an investigatory task force that “includes more city agencies as well as academic professionals in the fields of criminology, sociology, and psychology.”
Shannon Wright (R)
According to the Wright For Maryland website, Shannon Wright wants to review corruption in the police department and rid the department of corrupt officers to improve public trust with police. She also wants to improve the safety and work environment of the officers themselves.
“Crime is off the charts, let’s be real about where the City is currently,” she said. ” This is unacceptable and must change as quickly as possible.”
Carlmichael “Stokey” Cannady (D)
Carlmichael Cannady released a Comprehensive Crime Reduction Initiative on his campaign website. That plan states in order to reduce crime, the city must address the contributing factors that increase crime including poverty and living conditions, unemployment, education and school conditions, lack of school safety nets, ineffective correction systems, mass incarceration, distrust in law enforcement and city leaders and political neglect and corruption.
READ MORE: Crime Reduction Plan – Carlmichael Cannady
Under his plan, he would pilot a state-of-the-art Emergency Management Agency to prevent and respond to critical emergencies. Implement a culture of police accountability, support larger “public safety sector” to make sure violent criminals remain off the streets, deploy a new police recruiting process and creating a team of community leaders dedicated to stabilizing “street culture.”
Sheila Dixon (D)
Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon leaned on her record as mayor to reduce crime. When Dixon was mayor the city did not see a single year with more than 300 homicides. Dixon does not yet have a comprehensive plan.
Michael Jenson (D)
According to the Vote Michael Jenson website, he believes Baltimore city police officers should live in the city. He also said more resident volunteers working in the police and fire departments would help increase public safety.
Mary Miller (D)
According to a spokeswoman for Mary Miller, the former T. Rowe Price executive wants to see how Police Commissioner Michael Harrison’s plan affects crime numbers. Miller supports Harrison’s plan to improve police time, assign more officers to high crime areas and rebuild trust between the public and police. She believes that city police need to work with local, state and federal agencies to create a comprehensive plan to reduce crime. She also wants to update police technology to help them prevent crime.
Brandon Scott (D)
City Council President Brandon Scott said he’ll prioritize having a comprehensive crime strategy plan and would require input from several city and state agencies.
“The Baltimore Police Department cannot be expected to reduce crime alone. Every city agency has a role to play in addressing the disease of gun violence in our city,” Scott said on his site.
Scott wants to strengthen the gun offender registry to better identify straw purchasers and illegal use of assault weapons.
T.J. Smith (D)
Former Baltimore City police spokesman T.J. Smith said crime reduction will take “a strategic focus on outcomes and better allocation of resources, better collaboration, and better accountability to achieve long-term violence reductions.”
In the plan on his campaign website, Smith said he will focus on the people and places most often associated with violent crime, increase civilian staff in the police department so that more sworn officers are on the street, establish Trauma Go-Teams to help those impacted by violence.
He also wants to expand the tip incentive programs and strengthen the witness protection programs.
Dante Swinton (D)
According to the DCS4Bmore.org, Dante Swinton wants to create PEACE or Poverty Erasure and Community Enhancement Zones. He’ll ask for the $143 million, that was previously in the police budget, to be investigated into economically-challenged and environmentally-challenged communities – 24 communities over four years.
Swinton also said he would install an additional 200-hour segment into the city’s police academy that focuses on racial and economic injustices and would include going door-to-door to speak to residents, attending neighborhood association meetings, non-weapon based de-escalation. how to engage with residents with mental illness as well as anyone who identifies as transgender. You can read the details here.
Rikki Vaughn (D)
Rikki Vaughn released a crime plan proposal in December that outlines steps to promote peace and unity among city residents. Vaughns plans include cutting business regulations to provide incentives for area businesses to expand, formidable re-entry programs, hiring an additional 1,500 officers across the state and have a housing incentive for officers living in the city.
He also wants to refurbish old school buildings into youth and senior centers, strengthen neighborhood associations and PTAs across the city. Vaughn said addressing mental health and homelessness throughout the city and promoting job opportunities will increase the quality of life for city residents.
READ MORE: Rikki Vaughn Crime Plan 2020
Thiru Vignarajah (D)
Former state Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah released an “End the Bloodshed” plan, which would target drug and gang organizations with wiretap investigations in the city’s 12 deadliest neighborhoods. he also wants the city to refer to the U.S. Attorney’s Officer for an automatic review of all carjackings, bank and commercial robberies for federal prosecution.
Vignarahjah also wants to tap city residents who have cloud-based camera systems and offer a $100 rebate for registering them with the city — this would add 100,000 ground cameras to the police’s network.
Frederick Ware-Newsome (D)
According to the Newsome for Mayor website, Frederick Ware-Newsome said he would combat crime by hiring an additional 500 police officers over the next 2.5 years. He also said he’d make sure city, state and national agencies work together to solve crimes in the city and keep the offenders behind bars. He also will do monthly check-ins to make sure the city is reaching goals and objectives.
Mary Washington (D)
Senator Mary Washington said building trust and transparency with city police is key to restoring peace in Baltimore. Washington wants to enforce constitutional policing, prioritize community policing, audit police overtime and share police data publicly. Working with the police commissioner, she wants to target city hot spots to reduce gun violence and even prevent it, recruit more officers and improve police technology.
Bernard C. Jack Young (D)
Current city Mayor Jack Young will be running for election in 2020. Young has already released and implemented his crime plan along with Commissioner Harrison.
“The goal is to reduce crime with a comprehensive approach. Investing in our youth, rebuilding communities, and increasing support for job training facilities are key to reducing crime in Baltimore,” Young said in a statement on Monday. “The strategy uses a data-driven approach that established new focused patrol areas and activity zones where the level of crime is highest. These micro-targeted areas and zones represent over a third of all gun-related incidents have occurred since 2015.
The five-year crime reduction and departmental transformation plan outlined efforts to work with the community to reduce fear around policing, increase foot patrols and business checks in crime-prone areas and use research and data to drive decisions about where officers should patrol.
We could not find crime plans for William Herd (R), David Wiggins (R), Lou Catelli (D), Ralph Johnson, Jr. (D), James Jones, II (D) and Yolanda Pulley (D).