Flanked by law enforcement officers from around the state in January, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a series of initiatives — totaling about $13 million — he said would help to address violent crime in Baltimore.
The governor’s plan included $3 million to help Baltimore retain police officers; $2 million to bolster a “special operations unit”; $2 million to help protect witnesses; and $1 million to fund five federal prosecutors to target crime in Baltimore.
But legislative analysts in the General Assembly are now recommending deep cuts to Hogan’s plans for fighting crime in Baltimore, arguing the governor’s proposals lack details, aren’t evidence-based and won’t necessarily drive down crime.
Budget analysts are recommending about $11 million in cuts to Hogan’s so-called Baltimore City Crime Prevention Initiative — including eliminating 13 positions from the program.
The Department of Legislative Services “recommends deleting the funding and positions associated with the new initiative, as the concept is not currently well developed enough for such a significant ongoing commitment of State resources,” the analysts wrote while scrutinizing the budget for the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention.
The analysts further recommended adding language to the budget that would block Hogan from adding new programs to his anti-crime office until he properly evaluates the “effectiveness and interactions among current federal, State, and local resources dedicated to combating violent crime, particularly in Baltimore City, and how the new initiative will improve upon current efforts in a measurable capacity.”
The recommended cuts have not been well-received by Baltimore groups counting on the state funding.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby wrote a recent letter to lawmakers in support of retaining the $2 million in additional funds Hogan allocated to expand witness relocation services in Baltimore; and the Baltimore Jewish Council objected in writing to a proposed $1 million cut to Hogan’s budgeted grants for security for religious institutions at risk of hate crimes.
Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who is chairwoman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, said she understands the legislative analysts are just doing their job — looking for cuts in a $46.6 billion budget they believe needs some trimming.
But, McIntosh pledged, no cuts for crime-fighting efforts in Baltimore will go through under her watch.
“They can recommend it, but that money isn’t going anywhere,” McIntosh said.
Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, a Republican, said she was glad to hear of McIntosh’s comments.
“Ensuring vital resources are available to stop repeat violent offenders from terrorizing communities in Baltimore City is something we should all be able to agree on,” Chasse said.