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.