Ho­gan an­nounces new plans to curb Bal­ti­more vi­o­lence


— Mary­land’s gov­er­nor on Tuesday an­nounced a se­ries of new mea­sures to crack down on gangs and re­peat vi­o­lent of­fend­ers in the state’s big­gest city.

Gov. Larry Ho­gan, a Repub­li­can who eas­ily won a sec­ond term last year, out­lined ini­tia­tives to com­bat Bal­ti­more’s vi­o­lent crime scourge. Af­ter cit­ing sev­eral head­line-mak­ing crimes, in­clud­ing the fa­tal stab­bing of a Mary­land woman who was knifed to death in front of her fam­ily last month while try­ing to help a pan­han­dler, Ho­gan said res­i­dents of Bal­ti­more are “right­fully scared” by the lev­els of vi­o­lence.

“Let me be crys­tal clear: We have ab­so­lutely no tol­er­ance what­so­ever for these gangs and vi­o­lent crim­i­nals who are caus­ing law­less­ness in the streets of Bal­ti­more. Enough is enough. And we are go­ing to use ev­ery sin­gle tool and ev­ery sin­gle re­source at our dis­posal to track down, ar­rest, con­vict and bring these re­peat vi­o­lent crim­i­nals to jus­tice,” Ho­gan said in Bal­ti­more, flanked by var­i­ous of­fi­cials.

The big­gest new ini­tia­tive is a joint op­er­a­tions cen­ter in Bal­ti­more that Ho­gan says will serve as a hub for roughly 200 “strike force” law en­forcers from var­i­ous fed­eral, state and lo­cal agen­cies. He said they will be fo­cused on dis­rupt­ing and dis­man­tling the vi­o­lent crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions whose mem­bers com­mit most of the city’s vi­o­lent crimes.

A to­tal of seven fed­eral, state, and lo­cal joint task forces will op­er­ate from the op­er­a­tions


cen­ter, in­clud­ing the vi­o­lent crime and gang erad­i­ca­tion forces of the FBI, DEA, ATF, Bal­ti­more po­lice, Home­land Se­cu­rity In­ves­ti­ga­tions, and the U.S. Mar­shals Ser­vices.

Ho­gan an­nounced an ex­pan­sion of “Project Ex­ile,” which tries to en­sure that re­peat vi­o­lent of­fend­ers are fed­er­ally charged and get stiffer sen­tences, and two new leg­isla­tive ini­tia­tives aimed at en­sur­ing that re­peat vi­o­lent of­fend­ers are not re­leased onto the streets. He also said that the forth­com­ing state bud­get will pro­vide ad­di­tional fund­ing for re­cruit­ment in­cen­tives for the strug­gling Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment.

It’s not the first time Ho­gan has an­nounced a raft of crime-fight­ing mea­sures fo­cused on Bal­ti­more. In late 2017, Ho­gan came to the city to an­nounce plans to crack down on gangs and re­peat vi­o­lent of­fend­ers, in­clud­ing di­rect­ing the state po­lice to help serve high-pri­or­ity war­rants in Bal­ti­more. The U.S. Mar­shals Ser­vice also said it would help the state and the city with high-pri­or­ity ar­rest war­rants for vi­o­lent crim­i­nals.

Bal­ti­more saw some mod­est suc­cess in re­duc­ing its vi­o­lent crime scourge in 2018, but still ex­ceeded 300 an­nual homi­cides for the fourth year in a row. In 2017, the 342 homi­cides notched in the city of roughly 612,000 in­hab­i­tants yielded a pun­ish­ing homi­cide rate of 56 per 100,000 peo­ple, a rate the FBI called well above that of any other large U.S. city.

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