BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Pointing to “out of control” gun violence in Baltimore City, Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced three spending initiatives he said would help combat crime and mitigate its effects on victims.
The state will provide $3.5 million to add staff at the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, creating 10 positions in Baltimore, 10 in Greenbelt and 10 new positions in the Special Investigative Section, five data analyst positions and four legal support positions.READ MORE: Maryland Gas Tax Hikes 7 Cents Friday, Gov. Hogan Calls For Another Tax Holiday
Baltimore will also receive $6.5 million for the police department’s Warrant Apprehension Task Force, which Hogan said was a top priority for Mayor Brandon Scott. State police agencies will also help to clear warrants in high-priority cases.
“Aggressive and immediate enforcement of outstanding open warrants is critical to getting more violent offenders off the streets,” Hogan said. “This was the top request from Mayor Scott and commissioner Harrison when we had a crime meeting with them last month.”
Maryland will also provide $35 million in grants to victim service providers, a move the governor said would offset cuts in federal funding.
Additionally, all five state police agencies will increase their presence in the city, and the Maryland State Police will partner with the Baltimore Police Department’s Regional Auto Theft Task Force. Starting July 1, state troopers will patrol I-83 inside city limits, freeing up more Baltimore police officers, the governor said.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said he and Hogan discussed the state police partnership when they met last month.
“I want to thank Governor Hogan for allocating $6.5 million towards enhanced coordination between state and local law enforcement,” Scott said. “We both understand just how critically important it is to get our most violent offenders off the streets of Baltimore.”READ MORE: Gun Spotted In Driver's Car Before Baltimore Officer Dragged, Court Documents Say
House Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Democrat, said in a statement Baltimore needs investment elsewhere.
“So far this session, the House has passed legislation to outlaw ghost guns, improve security at firearms dealers and institute critical crime-fighting reforms in State government while providing record levels of funding to parole and probation,” Jones said. “The people of Baltimore need investment in education and communities, not political finger-pointing.”
The governor renewed his call for the Maryland General Assembly to pass two crime-fighting bills he submitted, the Judicial Transparency Act and Violent Firearms Offender Act.
An amended version of the former, which would require the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy to publish reports on the sentences handed out by judges, unanimously passed the Senate earlier this month. The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the proposal on Tuesday.
The latter proposal, which toughens sentences for repeat violent offenders who use guns, has not advanced in either chamber.
A piece of legislation including some of Hogan’s proposals, Senate Bill 861, passed the upper chamber on March 16 and is scheduled for a hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee on March 30. The proposal would establish felony theft of a handgun as a crime and change the classification of some crimes involving firearms.
Although the session is scheduled to wrap up on April 11, Hogan pushed for lawmakers to pass the Violent Firearms Offender Act, which he said would get murderers off the streets.MORE NEWS: Ex-Baltimore Fiscal Chief Pleads Not Guilty To Fraud, Identity Theft Charges
“Enough is enough. No more excuses. No more delays. No more far-left woke politics,” he said. “Pass these bills and get them to my desk so that they can be signed into law immediately.”