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As homicides mount, Baltimore councilman calls 'emergency' hearing on city crime plan

With homicides in Baltimore nearing 300 for the year, the chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee is holding an emergency meeting on the Pugh administration’s crime plan Tuesday afternoon.

City Councilman Brandon Scott is asking leaders of the police department and other city agencies to report to City Hall at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to explain what they’re doing to curb the violence.

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“We should be reevaluating just based on the sheer number of homicides,” Scott said Monday evening. “We’re at 295. Since they were here in July, they have released a plan. They have talked with us about some of the efforts they’re engaging in. We want to hear about them and see how successful we are.”

In July, Scott abruptly recessed a hearing about coordinating anti-violence strategies across city agencies, arguing city officials didn’t have a proper plan.

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Mayor Catherine Pugh responded by naming a new director of criminal justice and releasing an updated anti-violence plan.

In that plan, Pugh laid out several steps her administration had already taken to bolster policing, including putting more officers on patrol and improving police training and technology. The mayor also called for a holistic approach to fighting crime, saying the city’s strategy needed to include engaging youth, promoting community health and growing jobs.

Nevertheless, crime has continued to surge. Homicides are up by 13 percent compared with last year, while violent crime is up by 14 percent.

“It’s an emergency situation,” Scott said.

The council’s public safety committee, led by Scott, has offered its own ideas to address violence, including short-term efforts to boost the number of officers on the streets and longer-term plans to tackle social ills believed to drive crime.

Scott said he agreed that city government is trying many different tactics to address crime, but said they haven’t yet proven successful.

“We haven’t seen a decline in the violence based on all the activity we’re being told is going on,” he said.

Police officials did not immediately respond to a question about whether Police Commissioner Kevin Davis would attend the hearing.

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