ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday several initiatives and proposed emergency legislation for eliminating crime and prosecuting violent offenders.
The governor focused his frustration toward Baltimore City, which has exceeded 300 murders for a seventh straight year.
Hogan cited several violent crimes in the city within the past two weeks, including a Catholic priest robbed and “struck in the head with a gun” outside his church; 13-year-old Maliyah Turner found dead outside a recreation center; and a man fatally shooting two barbers and critically wounding another man.
Hogan said the state provided an additional $100,000 reward that will lead to an arrest and conviction of a suspect in the death of Evelyn Player, 69, stabbed inside Southern Baptist Church.
“These aren’t just stories and statistics. These are lives tragically snuffed out and families that will never be the same,” Hogan said during a press briefing at the State House in Annapolis. “The murders, shootings and out-of-control violent crime in the streets of Baltimore has long been the most urgent issue facing the city. Enough is enough.”
Without saying her name during the press briefing, Hogan criticized Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for the state to conduct a “top-to-bottom” evaluation to her office. The governor wants the office to provide data on prosecution, the number of cases pleaded down to lesser charges and the number of violent offenders offered plea deals.
Hogan said any state money provided to the office will not be frozen, but “it may get to the point where we will have to withhold funding.”
Several hours later, Mosby held her own press conference, labeling Hogan’s briefing as a “political stunt” and blasting the “entitled” and “privileged” governor for not calling her office to discuss the crime situation.
“Had the governor set aside his philosophical differences and chosen to meet or even talk to me, I would’ve been happy to show him the data that he is now making contingent [for] my office’s funding,” she said. “In fact, a great deal of the information the governor is seeking is already published on my website.”
Mosby said her office knows several of the families Hogan mentioned and scheduled to meet later Tuesday with the parents of Maliyah Turner, who she said was “part of my Great Expectations program” in city schools.
“For the governor to put on a show today and exploit the very real pain of our city residents as part of his political stunt is disgraceful and unacceptable,” she said. “Why is his only solution to crime more police and mandatory minimum sentences?”
To address violence not only in Baltimore but also statewide, Hogan wants state lawmakers to review and eventually pass emergency legislation when the legislature meets on Dec. 6 for a special session.
One such bill, the Violent Firearms Offender Act, seeks to increase tougher sentences for those who commit crimes and illegally possess guns. In addition, convict individuals who supply illegal guns to potential offenders.
Another, the Judicial Transparency Act, would publish sentencing records of judges in violent-crime cases.
The Hogan administration submitted both bills for last year’s 90-day General Assembly session.
“We are once again asking city leaders and the city delegation to stop working against this legislation and to work together with us to pass this,” he said.
Hogan also said Tuesday money would be immediately available for jurisdictions to apply for a portion of $10 million in neighborhood grants for new lighting and increased security services.
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said public safety remains a statewide concern, but done with “performative politics.”
“The Senate remains committed to targeted, thoughtful investments in communities that are most vulnerable — solutions the governor has repeatedly vetoed,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we have seen only reactive calls to action from the governor thus far. There are proactive solutions we can work together on now and we hope the governor sincerely comes to the table and takes more comprehensive actions going forward.”