Hogan, Scott Swap Messages on City Crime

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) penned a letter to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) on Thursday, alleging that no progress has been made toward addressing the rising murder rate in the city.

“With each passing week, more residents, more community leaders, and more elected officials are calling on you and [Police] Commissioner [Michael] Harrison to take definitive action to address this crisis,” Hogan wrote. “In light of these outcries, it is critical that the state and the public better understand what is — and what is not — being done.”

Since Hogan took office in 2015, Baltimore’s homicide count has consistently topped 300 deaths per year. According to the Baltimore Sun Homicide Database, 130 people have been murdered so far in 2022.

At a news conference last week, Baltimore City Councilmembers Eric T. Costello (D), Sharon Green Middleton (D), Mark Conway (D), Antonio Glover (D), Isaac “Yitzy” Schleiffer (D) and Robert R. Stokes Sr. (D) called on the governor for assistance in driving down the city’s homicide rate.

Hogan called the news conference “shocking,” and asked Scott to provide an update on the implementation of the crime plan that the pair discussed in February.

Additionally, Hogan wants to know how millions of dollars in state funding for city law enforcement “has and will be spent” and how many of 6,000 open felony warrants have been closed or assigned to other agencies since their meeting.

Hogan said the Maryland State Police have conducted 110,000 patrol checks, answered 9,500 calls for service, conducted more than 1,000 traffic stops, issued over 3,500 citations and warnings and made over 150 arrests in the city this year alone.

The governor also wrote that when the Maryland State Police has reached out to offer investigative aid to the Baltimore Police Department, they are often told it’s not needed.

“In February, you assured us that there was a comprehensive plan in place, but at this point, I do not believe anyone — including you — believes it is working,” Hogan scathingly wrote.

Scott responded with a public statement, released around 11:15 p.m.

“I am confused by the Governor’s letter and its request. First and foremost, if the Governor wanted to ask me about the crime fight, he could have asked me in person on Saturday, but he chose not to and instead played publicity games with public safety,” Scott said. “…If the Governor wants a briefing, I’ll brief him, and if he wants to take me up on my offer to come to my city and see what we are doing every day, that offer stands.”

The mayor also released a list of statistics related to the city’s efforts to quell violence.

On February 1, just before the meeting between the officials at the State House, the city’s homicide rate was 28% higher than a year earlier and non-fatal shootings were up 25%. As of Thursday morning, those figures were tracking closer to 2021: with homicides up 2.4% and non-fatal shootings up 8.3%, Scott said.

In terms of enforcement, year-to-date gun seizures are up 11%, violent gun seizures are up 19%, and the homicide clearance rate is up 3.7%, Scott wrote. City police are clearing murder warrants in an average of 13 days, which is 18% faster than a year ago, he continued.

Scott ended the statement offering to host Hogan for a tour of social and police services in the city.

“This way, he can see the work being done instead of pointing fingers from Switzerland without much effort,” Scott said.

Hogan was in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum from Monday to Wednesday this week.

“I invite Governor Hogan to visit Baltimore so that we can show him the full extent of our work and make sure he understands the pressing need within our communities to build a safer Baltimore truly,” Scott wrote.

This article was written by Maryland Matters, read more articles like this here.

Photo: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) speaks at a press conference in the city in 2021. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

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