With the number of murders in Baltimore quickly approaching 300 (as it’s done annually for the past several years) and the total number of shootings nearing 700, interim Mayor Jack Young took a meeting with Governor Larry Hogan this week to ask for help. His Police Commissioner also attended. While everyone agreed that the subject was important and the meeting was productive, it remains to be seen what more the state can actually do if leaders in Baltimore aren’t willing to take steps to help themselves. (Baltimore Sun)
Baltimore’s mayor and police commissioner met for more than an hour Friday with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, seeking more state support for fighting crime in the city amid a surging rate of gun violence.
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young asked Hogan for more state police deployments in the city, more staff for parole and probation in Baltimore and the release of $7 million in funding for technology upgrades in the Baltimore Police Department.
Hogan, Young and Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison all called the meeting at the governor’s Baltimore office “productive.”
Hogan reportedly was open to freeing up more money and cooperation with state police to bolster law enforcement in the city. But he also had a list of his own “suggestions” for ways Baltimore could better cope with the surging gun violence. Sadly, many of his proposals involve legislation that’s already been shot down at the municipal level and stalled at the state level, largely because of resistance from legislators from the greater Baltimore region.
For their part, the Mayor and the Police Commissioner mostly are asking for more money and to have state police pick up some of the required duties in the city. Asking for more money is nothing new and better cooperation between state and municipal law enforcement is certainly a worthy goal. But we should remember that most of the initiatives that might actually help curb gang violence have already been defeated.
Just this week we saw the same Police Commissioner who was in that meeting turn down a program what would have put three video surveillance planes up over the city to track violent criminals. And it would have been absolutely free to taxpayers.
Part of the money they are asking for would be slated for technology upgrades. That sounds great, but even the facial recognition technology they have in place right now is under fire and Baltimore’s own congressman, Elijah Cummings, is fighting to get it banned.
When the city attempted to pass tougher laws for gun crimes, particularly for first-time offenders, the City Council rejected it almost unanimously. A similar state law failed when it garnered almost zero support from the Democrats representing the Baltimore region.
How is the Governor supposed to help Baltimore when the city refuses to help itself? Everyone is focused on making sure the police don’t have “too much power” while they watch an epidemic of gang violence spiraling out of control.