Senator Critical Of Governor’s New Public Safety Strategy

BERLIN – While state officials say a new public safety strategy will target information sharing and early intervention, one local representative argued it will do nothing to address violent crimes and repeat offenders.

Last week, Gov. Wes Moore revealed his administration’s new vision to address public safety in Maryland. The strategy, featuring an “all-of-the-above” approach, focuses on supporting law enforcement, building stronger, more vibrant communities, improving government coordination and investing in Maryland’s youth through a Safe Summer initiative.

“An all-of-the-above approach to improving public safety in Maryland requires preventing crime, holding criminals accountable, and addressing the root causes of crime,” Moore announced last Thursday. “Good government is about making strong choices. And we are going to make the choice to act on public safety – in a way that is robust, strategic, and moves with an urgency that the issue demands; in a way that doesn’t just react to crime, but actually prevents crime.”

Through the Maryland Department of State Police, the administration has plans to improve coordination with local and federal law enforcement agencies through the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC), which provides critical data, analysis, and insight into criminal activity.

Since the beginning of the year, the administration reports MCAC has worked with 275 federal, state and local agencies on issues such as homicide, robberies, fraud and retail theft.

“No single police department has all the necessary resources and intelligence to combat the diverse range of criminal activities that we are seeing today – that’s why collaborative enforcement initiatives across every sector of law enforcement are more important than ever before,” said Maryland Department of State Police Superintendent Col. Roland L. Butler. “I am proud to stand with the members of the State Police and public safety partners who come to work each day and make a positive impact on our quality of life as Marylanders.”

As part of its new strategy, the administration also announced plans to launch a Safe Summer initiative through the Department of Juvenile Services.

The program will focus on improving opportunities for youth in the juvenile justice system by directing more resources to Baltimore City and surrounding counties, launching an initiative focused on 25 youth under state supervision who are at the highest risk of shooting someone or being shot, and creating partnerships with state agencies.

In partnership with the Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of the Environment, the agencies are implementing a series of youth development projects that will provide young people with the tools they need to thrive in communities across the state.

“To meet this moment we need all hands on deck. And I’m here to say that the Department of Juvenile Services stands ready to do our part,” said Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Vinny Schiraldi. “By prioritizing early interventions, we can meet our goal of building a more effective, less expensive, and better long-term approach to improving public safety.”

Following the governor’s announcement last week, Sen. Mary Beth Carozza – representing Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties – issued a statement voicing her concerns regarding the new public safety strategy. She opined the initiative would do nothing to target violent crimes or repeat offenders, particularly for communities on the Eastern Shore.

“During a week where we on the Eastern Shore were honoring the life of Corporal Glenn Hilliard on the one-year anniversary of his brutal murder by a repeat, violent offender, the Governor’s public safety announcement struck a raw nerve in my district where two of our finest law enforcement, Delmar Police Corporal Keith Heacook and Wicomico County Sheriff Corporal Glenn Hilliard, were savagely murdered by repeat, violent criminals over the last two years,” she said. “My constituents are demanding accountability and real consequences when it comes to dealing with repeat, violent offenders, and they are frustrated that there are no bold plans in addressing the violent crime in our communities.”

Carozza said that while the governor’s plan concentrated on information sharing and a new summer youth program, it did not introduce measures to reduce drug trafficking, armed robberies, carjackings or homicides, nor did it increase penalties against repeat violent offenders.

She added that the plan did not propose initiatives that reduced the number of illegal guns in the hands of criminals or held juveniles accountable for their crimes.

“Public safety should be the number one priority for anyone involved in public service, whether elected or not, or whether directly involved or not,” she said. “You can’t truly move forward with excellence in education, more affordable housing and healthcare, or a cleaner environment if Marylanders are not safe in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities. And public safety can only work if you have real accountability and real consequences.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.