ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Senate Democratic Caucus held a press conference to announce a comprehensive package of bills focused on reducing violence and making every community in Maryland safer.
The Senate leaders were joined by partners including Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus G. Jones, Baltimore County Police Col. Andre Davis, Anne Arundel County Police Major Ross Passman.
The level of violence is increasing across the state of Maryland and needs to be addressed urgently. Executives at the local and state levels need immediate resources and support as they implement strategies to keep our residents safe. The set of bills and initiatives announced today provide funding and framework for every step of our justice system, including prevention, intervention, criminal justice and rehabilitation.
“The people of Maryland are demanding solutions that break politics as usual,” said Senate Speaker Bill Ferguson. “I am grateful to our community partners who are on the front lines of building safer communities for joining us today and emphasizing the need for coordinated, strategic and comprehensive approaches to reducing violence. »
“There is an absolutely urgent need to protect and further increase the safety of our communities,” saidPrince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz.“Every day, I see the impact of violent crime on families, communities and my fellow officers. We must work collaboratively with behavioral health professionals, stakeholders, legislators, and other law enforcement agencies through a holistic approach to the urgent solutions we seek.
Legislation and initiatives announced today include:
- Ban ghost guns;
- Implement safety plans for disabled, juvenile, behavioral health and healthcare facilities;
- Increase resources for violence prevention;
- Establish a comprehensive firearms analysis center;
- Support warrant arrest efforts;
- Increasing behavioral health supports through the federal 988 hotline, $25 million to address children’s mental health needs and training for 9-1-1 operators and first responders;
- Demand judicial transparency;
- Ensure accountability for prosecutions;
- Improve the Parole and Probation Division through increased supervision and integrated services for supervisees;
- Eliminate over 140 parole and probation vacancies through learning pathways; and
- Establish PELL matching grants for formerly incarcerated youth.
“Resource coordination does extend to intelligence gathering to investigate and prosecute crimes. Establishing our state’s Firearms Analysis Center as a “one stop shop” for tracing and verifying firearms cases in Maryland will lead to more systemic enforcement and effective prosecution of crimes committed with firearms,” said Senator Pamela Beidle. “Once the perpetrators are identified, we must also provide our law enforcement partners with the resources to increase warrant arrest efforts to ensure prompt and certain consequences.”
“Transparency and accountability are fundamental to good government, and the criminal justice system is no different,”said President Will Smith.“Marylanders need to trust that judges and prosecutors make decisions in the public interest, which is why we will increase judicial transparency and prosecutorial accountability in the 2022 legislative session.”
“At the same time, we need to improve parole and probation so that they are properly equipped to handle those they are charged with supervising, especially violent offenders,”said Sen. Cory McCray.“The staggering number of vacancies within the Maryland State Police, Department of Corrections, and Division of Parole and Probation must be filled if we hope to break the pattern of victimization and recidivism that know many people on parole and probation.”
The community safety plan announced today focuses on prevention, response, criminal justice and rehabilitation to reduce violence and improve safety, and will be a top priority of the Maryland Senate over the next 68 days of the legislative session of 2022.