By Ava-joye Burnett

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Citing a wave of violent crime in Baltimore City, Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced a review of state funds provided to Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, emergency legislation to toughen criminal sentences and funding for community security.

Hogan’s announcement comes after Baltimore surpassed 300 homicides for the seventh year in a row. A string of homicides rocked the city in the last 10 days including the killing of a barber, a church employee, a 5-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl.

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“The people of Baltimore are hurting,” Hogan said. “They’re scared and they’re searching for answers. They want to know why this bloodshed keeps happening, and what it’s going to take for something to finally change. This horrifying violence is tearing Baltimore City apart, and enough is enough.”

The governor pointed to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office as part of the problem for not prosecuting some crimes. He directed the Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim services to conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of funding provided to her office.

All of the state funding will remain pending and under review until Mosby’s office provides complete data of the number of cases they have chosen not to prosecute and why, the number of cases pled down to lesser charges, and the number of violent offenders who are given plea deals.

“As I have repeatedly said, we also need a prosecutor who will actually prosecute violent criminals,” Hogan said. “Maryland taxpayers deserve to know that the millions of dollars in funding that the state provides each year are being used to actually prosecute criminals and to keep them off the streets.”

Tuesday afternoon, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby fired back at the governor. The state’s attorney said the governor already has access to the information that he’s requiring.

In an afternoon press conference, State’s Attorney Mosby said “had the governor set aside his philosophical differences and chosen to meet, even to talk to me, I would have been happy to show him the data that he is now making contingent on my office’s funding. In fact, a great deal of the information the governor is seeking is already published on my website.”

The state’s attorney said her prosecutors work hard to reduce crime and that she personally knows families who have been affected by crimes.

“My prosecutors take violent crime seriously and so do I. I met with the devastated daughter whose mother was killed in a church last week, and today I’m going to meet with the parents of the 13-year-old girl, who was a part of my “great expectations” program, that was murdered. For the Governor to put on a show today and exploit the very real pain of our city residents, as part of his political stunt, is disgraceful and unacceptable.”

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As part of a wider announcement, Governor Hogan said he will introduce two pieces of emergency legislation in a special session to introduce harsher sentencing for gun violence and transparency for judges handing down sentences for violent crime.

The Violent Firearms Offender Act will toughen sentences for violent offenders who commit crimes with firearms. The Judicial Transparency Act will require the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing to track and publish information on the sentences that are handed down by judges for all violent crimes.

The governor pushed similar measures two years ago.

Hogan also expedited $10 million in Neighborhood Safety Grants to support lighting, cameras, hardware upgrades and increased security services for community organizations, business districts, main streets and neighborhoods. He announced an expansion in eligibility for the grants to houses of worship and vulnerable communities.

Mayor Brandon Scott and Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson Thursday said they want to see cooperation rather than what Ferguson called “performative politics” from the governor.

Mayor Scott proposed restarting the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which both Hogan and Mosby were a part of. Hogan stripped state funding from the council in 2017 because he said the group was ineffective and did not focus on reducing the city’s violent crime problem.

The mayor first proposed restarting the council in March.

“It will happen in a way that will be constructive where we’re talking about how we can rebuild systems and fix systems,” Scott said. “Because the reality is, as I said before, and when I said to the governor and to the State’s Attorney when asking them to come back to the table for CJCC, is that every single part of our justice system and public safety system has some responsibility for things that need to be fixed.”

Sen. Ferguson said Hogan doesn’t need to wait for a special session to help Baltimore.

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“The governor can act well before the Maryland General Assembly reconvenes and he must do so,” Ferguson said. “Marylanders need immediate solutions, like increased coordination between State and local agencies, a strengthened Division of Parole and Probation that anticipates the direct correlation between being a victim of violence and perpetrator of one, and strategies that recognize poverty shapes outcomes.”

Ava-joye Burnett