For the second time in nearly three months, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan emphasized his support for law enforcement and the money it needs to fight crime.
Within that message Monday, Jan. 10 standing alongside law enforcement officials, the Republican governor’s “re-fund the police” initiative calls for the legislature to fund $500 million over a three-year period.
Some of the funding would include $200 million in salaries and bonuses, $137 million in state aid for local jurisdictions and $50 million in capital improvements for state police barracks and a new tactical services building.
“Legislators are returning to Annapolis for their 90-day session where they will be debating a few thousands of bills,” Hogan said Monday in recognition of Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. “But there is nothing more important than addressing the violent crime crisis in our state and to refund the police and to give them the support and resources they need to do their job more effectively. Our police are underfunded and under attack.”
Hogan’s proposal represents an expansion of a law enforcement proposal he announced in October for the legislature to approve $150 million. Neighborhood safety grants previously allocated for $10 million would increase to $30 million in lighting, cameras and security services for community organizations, businesses and local main streets.
Meanwhile, the governor also directed Robert L. Green, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services and the Division of Parole & Probation, to begin tracking open warrants. It would start in high crime areas in Baltimore City, he said.
The governor, whose term expires in January 2023, reiterated his plans to reintroduce the Violent Firearms Offender and Judicial Transparency acts during this year’s sessions that began Wednesday, Jan. 12.
The firearms act seeks to toughen sentences for repeat violent offenders who use, possess and supply illegal guns. The judicial act would require the state Commission on Criminal and Sentencing Policy to track sentences handed down by judges in violent crimes.
Additional details will be presented next week when the governor submits a fiscal budget.
Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery County) called the governor’s law enforcement funding initiative “disappointing and angering,” especially when the state has a more than $2 billion budget surplus.
“It’s disappointing . . . that the governor would engage in such a blatant lie with his re-fund the police initiative or plan because we’ve never defunded the police in Maryland. I challenge the governor, or any member of his par-
ty, to prove otherwise,” he said. “We’re seeing a budget surplus and instead of Hogan refunding our communities, he is going on this crusade and lying to folks on this refund initiative only to score political points for whatever aspirations he has after [his term expires] while our communities lose out, ” Acevero said.
During the 90-day session, the ACLU of Maryland plans to advocate for $10 million allocated for school resource officers and redirect the money to hire counselors, psychologists and implement restorative practices to reform school discipline.
Justin Nalley, a public policy analyst with ACLU of Maryland, summarized how 56% of Black students in the state represent school-based arrests but only account for one-third of the total student population. About 23% of students with individual education plans (IEPs) are arrested at school but account for 12% of the entire student population.
Some of the arrests may include fistfights with no weapons, trespassing or “simple” drug possession, he said.
“These school arrests for these minor offenses are a byproduct of police presence in schools,” Nalley said during a virtual press briefing Monday. “We look forward to educating folks about police presence in schools.”