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Violent crime sends system 'close to gridlock,' Robinson says Maryland's top public safety official calls for summit to plan strategies.


Violent crime has so overloaded Maryland's law enforcement system that it is "close to gridlock," says the state's top law officer, who announced plans for a summit meeting of government, business and community representatives next month to plan new strategies.

"I'm saying it's time to mobilize resources," yesterday said Bishop L. Robinson, public safety and correctional services secretary. The meeting on violent crime is to be held March 19 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

"We've got to tell the truth," Mr. Robinson said. "At every point, the whole system is so overloaded, it's close to gridlock. The system as it's constructed can't handle it."

Mr. Robinson hopes that highlighting violent crime and the state criminal justice system's beleaguered status will lead to a political consensus for increased funding for public safety.

The proposed summit -- similar to one convened three years ago by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to address Maryland's drug problem -- will bring together law enforcement, government, business and community leaders in an attempt to reverse the trend of violent crime in Baltimore and around the state.

Over the past 16 years, violent crime has increased 37 percent statewide, while property crimes have climbed a modest 2.4 percent, according to statistics compiled by the state public safety department.

Last year, Baltimore recorded its second consecutive year with more than 300 murders -- a homicide toll that hasn't been seen since the city's shock-trauma system came on line in the early 1970s. Likewise, Prince George's and Montgomery counties both reached record numbers of slayings in 1991.

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