BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Democratic candidate Rushern Baker said Thursday he would declare a state of emergency to combat violent crime in Baltimore if he’s elected governor.

By declaring a state of emergency, the government could unlock additional resources to combat what the former Prince George’s County executive called “a crisis” and one of the biggest challenges facing the state’s next executive.

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“More than 2,000 mostly young, Black men have been killed in Baltimore over the past eight years and if that’s not an emergency, then I don’t know what is,” Baker said in a statement. “You can guarantee that if this was happening in Howard or Anne Arundel County, we would have taken action a long time ago.”

Baker and his running mate, Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, are scheduled to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Thursday to discuss the proposal and other elements of their public safety plan.

“Bolstering law enforcement activities alone is not enough without also addressing the systemic inequities that created this problem in the first place, we have to do both,” Navarro said in a statement.

Baker has also pledged he would spend most of the year in Baltimore City if elected instead of the state capital of Annapolis.

The governor has access to an office in the William Donald Schaefer Building on E. Baltimore Street.

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Baker would take up residence in the governor’s mansion in Annapolis and conduct state business in the capital during the 90-day legislative session, running from January to April.

Otherwise, he would live in a house purchased in Baltimore and work in the city.

“The reason I want to do that is, Baltimore City really is the most important city we have in the state,” Baker said.

The candidate has also weighed in on the ongoing controversy surrounding “The Block,” a stretch of strip clubs and adult stores downtown, saying he would veto any bill that places a curfew on the area.

“If you shut down in one part of of the city, (crime) goes elsewhere,” he said. “This is a distraction. That’s why I oppose it.”

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Local lawmakers, including Senate President Bill Ferguson, have since reached a compromise with club owners to increase security on “The Block” without forcing businesses to close early.

CBS Baltimore Staff