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Baltimore mayoral candidate Elizabeth Embry releases anti-crime plan

Baltimore mayoral candidate Elizabeth Embry releases anti-crime plan
Attorney Elizabeth Embry, 38, announced her candidacy for mayor this morning in front of supporters at her alma mater, City College. Embry is chief of the criminal division for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, and was formerly a deputy in the Baltimore City State's Attorney office under Gregg Bernstein. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore mayoral candidate Elizabeth Embry on Wednesday released a 17-page plan that outlines how she would work to reduce crime if elected.

Embry, chief of the Maryland Attorney General's Office criminal division, would use a "district-by-district strategy" to target gangs, revitalize the anti-gun CeaseFire program, and expand the Safe Streets program in which ex-offenders intervene in disputes.


Her plan also states she would mandate body cameras for police, recruit more local officers, and expand incentives for officers to get higher educations.  And, she pledges to "end the War on Drugs," by stopping arrests for simple marijuana possession and expanding drug treatment.

"It's about being tough on violent crime and gun crime," Embry said of her plan. "It's not about being tough on people who are the victims of addiction or poverty."

Baltimore is reeling from one of its worst years for violent crime. In 2015, there were more than 900 shootings and 344 homicides.

Embry, a former deputy in the city state's attorney's office, says her background in law enforcement makes her stand out from the other candidates running for mayor. Other leading contenders in the Democratic primary include former Mayor Sheila Dixon, State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, Councilmen Carl Stokes and Nick J. Mosby and businessman David L. Warnock.

"Things right now are sadly out of control," Embry said of crime in Baltimore. "I don't think anyone has the experience, credibility and detail comparable to my experience and my plan."

Embry said she blamed 2015's record murder rate on "failures in leadership," among other factors. But she said she has been impressed with new police commissioner Kevin Davis.

"He is doing a lot of things right," she said. "I hope he will carry through on his promises and priorities."

Daniel W. Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy & Research, said he was "very impressed with Ms. Embry's plans."

"They are consistent with the best available research and her plans include many specific and bold reforms that are overdue," he said. "I particularly like the focus on prevention with respect to getting guns off the street, focused deterrence through Ceasefire, investment in Safe Streets, and drug treatment.  Her plan also recognizes that juveniles are different from adults and should be treated differently."

Former Baltimore police commissioner Leonard Hamm, now chief of the Coppin State University police, also praised the plan.

"I thought it was bold. I thought it was far-reaching. I think it's doable," Hamm said. "That plan really understands what crime is about in this city. Crime is nothing more than a symptom of health issues, housing issues, education issues, economic issues and transportation issues. If you don't deal with those, you're going to have crime."