City mayor's race: Where they stand on crime

The Baltimore Sun

Eight Democratic candidates are running for mayor in the Sept. 11 primary election and most have released a plan to deal with crime. They were asked about the three most important changes they would make to reduce crime. Here is a summary of their responses:

Andrey Bundley

To address the rift between residents and police, Bundley would organize church members and community organizations to visit neighborhoods en masse. He envisions 1,000 people knocking on doors in troubled neighborhoods at a time. The large presence of volunteers, he said, would re-establish the connection between the city and residents and would scare off drug dealers.

He supports retraining police to move them from a "crime fighting" strategy to a philosophy of "protect and serve" - the idea being that the police would better work with residents. The training, he said, would begin immediately after he hired a police commissioner.

Bundley would bring in "gang redirection" experts from across the country and within Baltimore. These experts - including former gang members -would seek out gangs and offer their members city services in exchange for not committing initiation crimes. The experts would be volunteers. Jill P. Carter

In addition to changing the top commanders in the department, Carter has vowed to create an advisory panel of police officers, residents and former police commissioners that would make recommendations on policing strategies and policies. The panel, which would likely include about a dozen people, would start "from Day One," according to her campaign.

Carter would declare a "state of emergency" over the crime issue. Though a mayor cannot legally declare a disaster area, Carter's campaign said she would use the power of the bully pulpit to request additional state troopers and help from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Under a Carter administration, more police would be "in the community," especially from dusk to dawn. The campaign has said that officers would be encouraged to get out of their cars and walk foot beats as much as possible. Frank M. Conaway Sr.

Conaway will look to federal programs, such as the U.S. Department of Justice's Weed & Seed, to help communities dealing with crime. In terms of state and federal assistance, Conaway said he would also support bringing state police and the National Guard into the city if homicides continue on their current pace.

He has also suggested that all mayoral candidates should "throw our [crime] plans in the trash can" because, he said, it is the police commissioner's job to deal with crime, not the mayor's. At the same time, he has called for the Maryland attorney general to organize a summit to create a "true crime plan."

Conaway would take $10 million from surplus city funds or police overtime to provide loans to minority-owned businesses, specifically in the black community, which he said would create jobs for potential criminals. Sheila Dixon

Dixon would continue the targeted enforcement approach she started this year, which means police "focus more energy and resources on apprehending repeat offenders." In tandem, Dixon would release a database of gun offenders - much like a sex-offender registry - as part of an effort to take illegal guns off the streets.

To build relationships with the community, Dixon would continue the "Adopt-a-Block" program, in which police who adopt a block are required to spend an hour each day patrolling on foot. Dixon's administration has also "encouraged" officers to get out of their cars more frequently and walk through neighborhoods.

Dixon has said she will build partnerships with federal and state law enforcement agencies to share information about violent offenders. Through GunStat, a program that tracks gun cases as they move through the courts, Dixon's campaign said the mayor's office meets weekly with local and federal prosecutors. Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr.

To address a shortage of police, Mitchell has promised to hire 400 more officers. He will attempt to retain officers already on the force by providing a 15 percent across-the-board pay raise. He has said he will pay for those promises by reducing police overtime and waste in city government.

Many of those officers would be placed in gang units. Mitchell has said he will create and "fully staff" a specialized unit to focus on gangs in all nine police districts.

To restore trust, police would undergo an orientation period in Mitchell's administration in which officers would walk foot patrols in certain neighborhoods. The city would then allow officers to continue to patrol the same neighborhoods throughout their career so that they would remain familiar with the area. A. Robert Kaufman

Kaufman would attempt to take the profit out of the drug trade by making it legal for addicts to receive whatever they are addicted to free in hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices. He also supports creating a "red light district" in which the distribution of drugs and prostitution would be legal.

He supports removing all restrictions on buprenorphine, a drug that is used to treat heroin addicts that is safer than methadone. The restrictions on the drug, however, are set by the federal government, not City Hall.

As the only socialist running in the primary, Kaufman supports federal job and training programs reminiscent of those created in the 1930s to fight the Great Depression. Creating more jobs, he said, will reduce crime. Mike Schaefer

Schaefer would boost the salary of first-year officers to a minimum of $50,000. He would also expand the city's recruitment efforts beyond the East Coast to include cities such as Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans. Schaefer said he would pay for the increased salaries with a commuter tax, though such a tax would require approval from the General Assembly.

He would double the number of police officers on horseback and require those equestrian units to patrol city neighborhoods.

Schaefer would create a two-tiered mentor program. For youngsters under 15 he would create a foster-father program. For those over 15, the city would pay their full salary for three months and half their salary for an additional three months at any job in the city.

Note: Candidate Phillip A. Brown Jr. has not responded to phone calls or questions from The Sun.

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