Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan responded this week to a recent spike in violent crime and murders in Baltimore by announcing several measures intended to examine systemic problems in the city’s government.
Hogan said on Tuesday that he is planning a state investigation into the office of Baltimore’s City Attorney, Marilyn Mosby. The controversial official attracted the attention of national media outlets earlier this year when she said that her office would stop prosecutions of what she called “low-level” crimes. Her policy included drug possession and prostitution in crimes that would not be prosecuted. When she announced the non-prosecution policy, Mosby said that data suggests “no public safety value” in prosecuting the listed crimes.
The data that has resulted suggests something different. Many neighborhoods in the city have seen their quality of life deteriorate rapidly. More than forty businesses have banded together to threaten to withhold city taxes until crime prevention efforts improve. For the seventh consecutive year, homicides in the city have surpassed 300, with more than a month to go in 2021. The creation of “no-shoot zones” in the city has had no apparent effect on shooting statistics.
Hogan said in his press conference that he wants to reassure the citizens of Baltimore that the state government will “continue to use every tool at our disposal” to improve safety and get “violent shooters off the streets.”
The governor sent a letter to Mosby demanding an accounting of how her office has used state funding intended for crime prevention. He specifically called for a listing of the cases that have not been prosecuted and the reasons why the decision was made not to prosecute. The letter also demands the details related to each case be reduced to a lesser charge by a plea agreement. The letter advised Mosby that non-compliance with the requests made in the letter would threaten “all funding” for Mosby’s office.
Hogan also announced that the state is “fast-tracking and expanding” a safety grants program for neighborhoods most at risk of violent crime. The grants will provide “hardware upgrades, lighting, cameras, and increased security services.” He promised to introduce new legislation to address violent crime at the Maryland legislature’s extraordinary session next month.
Mosby responded by calling Hogan’s announcements a “political stunt” and said that he is simply “pointing the finger at everyone else.”