BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Mayor Brandon Scott on Tuesday emphasized modernizing Baltimore’s police force, investment in its communities and providing economic relief to residents in his second annual State of the City address.

The mayor’s remarks highlighted his commitment to paving a new path for the city.

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“Baltimore, let’s be honest, when I came into office the city was broken and rotten to the core from years of dysfunction, turmoil and misplaced focus,” Scott said. “We had to start from scratch and build new systems from the foundation up, no longer putting new windows on a house with no roof.”

That new path includes school investment and reimagined community centers, along with economic initiatives like a guaranteed income program and youth employment initiative.

Notably, Scott made a special announcement: that Baltimore-based developer, MCB Real Estate, has reached an agreement to acquire Harborplace, a waterfront mall at the Inner Harbor that has fallen into disrepair. The developer’s plans for the location are forthcoming.

Mayor Scott began the address with a moment of silence for Baltimore’s first responders and public safety workers who have died in the line of duty. He named fallen Officer Keona Holley, three firefighters killed in a vacant house collapse and three Safe Streets workers killed over the last year.

Reimagining Policing & Public Safety

Violence remains a pervasive problem in the city, and Scott said he intends in part to steer police more toward confronting that violence and away from non-emergency calls.

“I want to commend the entire BPD for serving our residents to make Baltimore a safer place every single day,” Scott said. “But if we continue with the status quo, we will continue to get status quo results. That is why we are doing the work to ensure that police resources are being used effectively and constitutionally.”

Scott announced in the coming weeks he will be unveiling the city’s Smart Policing Program, which he said will “free up valuable time” spent by officers on non-emergency calls, which patrol officers allegedly spend half of their time on.

The mayor also highlighted a new BPD staffing model to maximize limited sworn resources, allowing police to “tap into qualified personnel that can advance through the hiring process faster.”

Scott said he has also been working with Senator Cory McCray on “long overdue” police redistricting to reflect changed population and crime trends.

“Frankly, all of these initiatives are long overdue, and I know that some of them will cause controversy,” Scott said. “However, as I stated when I was sworn in I am dedicated to doing the right thing, regardless of criticism. We need to evolve in order to build a capacity not to just solve crimes, but also to prevent them from happening in the first place.”

Scott also emphasized violence intervention initiatives like Safe Streets being key to disrupting violent crime, as well as the Mayor’s comprehensive violence prevention plan.

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The mayor also announced investments into the Baltimore Fire Department, which includes $5 million for two new EMS units and to establish nurse triage programs. The city is also rebuilding Engine 14, based in Southeast Baltimore.

Community Investment

Scott emphasized investment in youth and underserved communities in his address, announcing a $65 million investment from the city into Baltimore City Public Schools, and underscored his commitment to Recreation and Parks.

In February, he announced $120 million in funding for Recreation and Parks for the city’s rec centers, playgrounds, pools, trails and playing fields. Today, he announced a partnership with KABOOM! to end playspace inequity in the city with a $250 million plan to bring 25 parks to underserved communities within five years.

Scott said these kinds of investments are what can keep a city safe.

“We are putting our money where our mouth is providing them with safe minor spaces to exercise spend their time productively,” Scott said. “And of course to me, foster excellence through healthy competition. We will put more effort into their promise than their struggles, more in their support than their shackles, and more in their dreams than their downfalls. This is how we are truly going to build public safety in Baltimore.”

Economic Initiatives

The mayor highlighted economic initiatives such as a guaranteed income pilot program and YouthWorks Baltimore. Scott announced that applications for the guaranteed income program, which was announced a year ago, would open next month.

“Research shows that guaranteed income projects have resulted in lower poverty, higher earnings and savings,” Scott said. “Guaranteed Income has proven to be a key tool in improving economic mobility and advancing racial and gender equity. This is an investment and the future of our city and now young families by providing direct support so they can thrive.”

More details about the pilot program are to come.

Two weeks ago, the city kicked off the 2022 YouthWorks season. Last year for the first time in years, the city offered a summer job to every young person that completed an application, and this year it’s happening again.

“I’m calling on all area employers, larger small non-profits, faith and community organizations to plan for your future today by hiring through YouthWorks for your summer knees,” Scott said. “We want to ensure that every young person that wants to work doesn’t miss an opportunity to do so.”

He said there is much to be done but that the city remained “strong and vibrant.”

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CBS Baltimore Staff