Southeast Baltimore lawmakers release anti-violence plan

With the city on pace for a record homicide rate this year, lawmakers from Southeast Baltimore are releasing an anti-violence plan.

The plan from state Sen. Bill Ferguson and Dels. Luke Clippinger, Brooke Lierman and Robbyn Lewis, all Democrats, calls for tougher gun laws and more robust funding for social programs.

“The four of us feel a great deal of frustration at the level of violence in our district and across the city,” Ferguson said. “We keep coming back to some common-sense programs that can be immediately presented to impact the situation today.

“We also think it’s important to think beyond the immediate crime fight, and that requires a comprehensive approach to address the drivers of crime."

The plan calls on Mayor Catherine Pugh to appoint a director to the vacant position leading the Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice and reinstate a gun enforcement tracking program called Gunstat.

It calls on Gov. Larry Hogan to fund the anti-violence Safe Streets program at more sites in Baltimore and a youth intervention program called Operation Safe Kids.

The Baltimore lawmakers also called for mandatory minimum sentences for those who possess illegal firearms and more resources for juveniles.

As of last week, 183 people had been killed by homicide in Baltimore — a 26 percent increase over the same time period in 2016.

“The current state of affairs is totally unacceptable, and we have grown increasingly frustrated about the lack of an urgent response and a well-thought out plan for decreasing violence in our City," the lawmakers wrote.

Ferguson has no opponent yet in next year’s Democratic primary, but the slate of incumbent delegates already has three challengers: Dea Thomas, Nate Loewentheil and Scotty Christopher Womer.

Last week, the District 46 legislators joined a group of 17 state lawmakers representing the city in suggesting ways Hogan could help address Baltimore’s violence.

The group of Democrats, led by state Del. Antonio Hayes, suggested state police, parole and probation officers and juvenile services staffers join warrant task forces; state police staff the Juvenile Booking facility, thereby freeing up city police to patrol the streets; and increase probation and parole visits to the homes of violent offenders released from jail.

They also suggested extending state patrol and crash investigations three-to-five miles into the city; fund an expanded Safe Streets program in which ex-offenders intervene in neighborhood disputes in the city's transformation zones; and increase MTA police and General Services police patrols at Mondawmin Mall, Upton and Lexington Market and State Center.

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