Baltimore City and Baltimore County will receive $4.6 million in federal funding that is designed to help identify owners of guns used in violent crimes, provide services to children affected by the opioid crisis, fund body-worn cameras for police and serve other criminal justice needs.
“We know keeping our communities safe is one of our most important responsibilities," Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said at a news conference Monday. “We’re here because we understand the root causes of violence are complex. There’s no single cause or solution."
Olszewski joined Baltimore area legislators, including U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and U.S. Reps. John Sarbanes and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, and Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young at the Baltimore Police headquarters downtown to discuss funding for programs in the city and county.
“Every grant is competitive," Cardin said of the funding. “The credit belongs with our local officials to show the confidence that their federal partnerships would be used in a way that would benefit the region and work as a national model and help public safety around the region.”
Cardin pointed to several initiatives, including $687,749 for Baltimore City that will help children victimized by the opioid crisis.
“We know that’s a continuing problem," he said.
Another program, the Local Law Enforcement Crime Gun Intelligence Center Integration Initiative, will provide $750,000 to identify guns used in crimes and locate perpetrators.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the money will continue to help the department expand initiatives to address the city’s crime rate.
“This adds capacity and builds our collaborative effort. It pulls us out of silos and helps us create initiatives where we work more collaboratively together in tracking where guns come from,” Harrison said.
Van Hollen said the funding would crack down on gun crimes “by providing more technology to more quickly track down guns used in crimes so we can more quickly catch the perpetrators and get them off the streets.”
Van Hollen said the funding helps local officials provide “a comprehensive approach” to combating crime. He said an additional $275,000 is earmarked for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office to help prevent wrongful convictions.
A news release described the program as evaluating case outcomes and assessing “prospective risk factors that might impact a wrongful conviction.”
Money also was awarded to University of Maryland Baltimore County, which will receive $420,919 to research causes of and ways to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault, while Baltimore County will receive $277,762 to fund a police-based victim specialist who will provide supportive services to crime victims.
Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said the“much-needed funds” will “continue to enhance our investigative capacity, provide critical support and improve our ability to assist victims of crimes by funding a victim specialist.”
Other funds will go to programs to enhance community policing, to combat elder abuse and to support local criminal justice initiatives, including training and technical assistance.