Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is calling on state lawmakers to pass emergency legislation dealing with crime as Baltimore has seen the number of homicides pass 300 for the seventh year in a row.
In a news conference in the Maryland State House Tuesday, Hogan told reporters, “The people of Baltimore are hurting. They’re scared. And they’re searching for answers.”
When legislators head back to Annapolis Dec. 6 for a special session on redistricting plans, Hogan wants them to take up initiatives that he’s supported in the past. One would toughen penalties on the possession of illegally obtained firearms.
Hogan also wants lawmakers to pass his Judicial Transparency Act, a bill that would track and publish sentences handed down by judges in crimes involving violence.
In response to the governor’s plan for the special session, Senate President Bill Ferguson issued a statement calling the governor’s approach “reactive.” Ferguson said the Senate “remains committed to targeted, thoughtful investments in communities that are most vulnerable — solutions the governor has repeatedly vetoed.”
During the news conference, Hogan was asked about critics who say the answer isn’t more policing but more funding for social services.
Hogan said up to $5 billion had been funneled to Baltimore to address a range of issues. “I’m concerned about people getting shot this week and this weekend,” said Hogan. “I think we should have more funding for police.”
Hogan was also asked about his focus on violent crime in Baltimore City while one of the state’s largest jurisdictions, Prince George’s County, is also experiencing a spike in crime. Hogan told reporters, “First of all, murders and violent crime are up all across America.”
The governor said, “I’m not trying to diminish the severity of the problem” in Prince George’s, but he added, “Every one of these pieces of legislation, all of this funding, all of the increased support for local police, applies to Prince George’s County just as it does Baltimore City and all of our other 24 jurisdictions.”
Hogan said he would make $10 million “immediately available” for neighborhood safety grants that would help cover the costs of measures such as added lighting, cameras and “increased security services” for community organizations and business districts in Baltimore City.
While saying now is not the time for “finger pointing” and blame, Hogan went on to say that “We need a prosecutor who will actually prosecute violent criminals.”
Hogan said he would direct the office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services to “conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of all funding provided” to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office run by Marilyn Mosby.
Hogan also said he’d reached out to Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott’s office and denied that the two have had any issues over arranging a chance to meet and discuss strategies over how to deal with Baltimore’s crime.
‘A punching bag’
Mosby fired back at Hogan later Tuesday, calling the governor’s comments “a political stunt.”
Mosby told reporters, “For the past seven years, just like Donald Trump, Larry Hogan has used Baltimore City as a punching bag.”
Mosby said of Hogan’s plan to call for a review of her track record on crime, “I’ve never said that I would not prosecute violent offenders or violent crime in the city of Baltimore. … My prosecutors take violent crime seriously and so do I.” She added, “A great deal of the information that the governor is seeking is already published on my website.”
Mosby said “I stand by the work of my office” and said her prosecutors are “underpaid and overworked” and fight daily for the citizens of Baltimore.
Asked whether she took the governor’s comments personally, she said, “I have a right to be offended.”