ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan today joined with federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and officials to announce a series of initiatives to combat criminal gang enterprises and repeat violent offenders responsible for terrorizing Baltimore City and participating in violent crime throughout the state. The governor’s announcements include state and federal law enforcement assistance targeting the violent crime ravaging Baltimore City; legislation to ensure that violent criminals serve their full prison sentence; and a new, collaborative data-sharing network to help prosecutors and law enforcement bring down criminal networks across the state.
“Let me be crystal clear – I have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for these repeat violent offenders or these criminal gangs causing lawlessness in our streets,” said Governor Hogan. “Our focus is to give law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges the tools they need to get these violent criminals off the streets and into prison.”
In 2016, more than 330 drug trafficking organizations were identified as operating within Maryland, and law enforcement agencies identified over 10,000 individuals associated with gangs and over 5,000 firearms involved in crimes. The Baltimore Police Department has reported that nearly 90% of homicide victims have criminal records averaging over 10 arrests, and nearly half have been previously arrested for gun crimes.
To address the critical levels of violence in Baltimore, the governor announced several immediate steps state and federal agencies are taking to assist the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) in going after violent criminals. The governor directed the Maryland State Police and other state police agencies operating in the city to expand their patrols in order to establish a more visible police presence in high-crime areas. He also announced that the state police will assist the Baltimore Police Department with serving high-priority warrants for violent crime-related arrests, and that over 200 state Parole and Probation officers will partner with city officers to locate repeat violent parole offenders.
Governor Hogan also announced that the U.S. Marshals Service will be sending over 80 marshals and federally-designated officers to conduct an aggressive sweep of Baltimore City to assist the state and city with high-priority violent arrest warrants. Finally, the governor directed the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Stadium Authority to work directly with the city to identify vacant properties in the highest-crime areas for expedited demolition under Project C.O.R.E., the joint state-city initiative that has already removed over 1,200 blighted properties across the city.
In addition to the measures targeting Baltimore City, the governor also announced several wide-ranging initiatives targeting violent criminal networks across the state. As the centerpiece of this statewide approach, the governor unveiled the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network, a data-sharing system that will connect State-funded operational initiatives from strategic counties and cities with 36 federal, state, and local law enforcement task forces in order to break down jurisdictional barriers and enable law enforcement and prosecutors to target entire criminal enterprises. This initiative is made possible by Maryland’s new Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) statute, which was part of landmark anti-crime legislation that the governor pushed for and passed during the 2016 legislative session.
“Gang violence and violent crime is not limited to one city or one county – it is infecting communities everywhere,” said Governor Hogan. “Their poisoning of too many of our communities is far-reaching, and our administration is committed to doing whatever we can to assist local law enforcement in their mission to identify, disrupt, and dismantle these gangs and violent criminal networks.”
To provide leadership and operational coordination on these data-sharing efforts, the governor signed Executive Order 01.01.2017.30 to create the Governor’s Council on Gangs and Violent Criminal Networks, which will be comprised of members from local, state, and federal law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. The council will be chaired by Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo and include: Colonel Pallozzi, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary Steve Moyer, Executive Director Fueston, Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hur, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski, Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan, Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry, Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith, and Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams.
Governor Hogan also announced three new bills he will introduce as emergency legislation at the start of the 2018 legislative session to combat violent crime in Baltimore City and across the state. The first delivers on the governor’s promised truth-in-sentencing initiative, which will require second-time violent criminals to serve their full sentence, and make them ineligible for parole.
The administration’s second bill addresses the problem of repeat violent gun offenders failing to serve adequate time for their crimes by doubling the minimum sentence from five to ten years for repeat offenders who use firearms to commit felonies and violent crimes. The bill will require that the time be served consecutively to any other sentence, and includes additional penalties for individuals convicted of using a firearm in relation to drug trafficking if they are later found to illegally possess a firearm. The governor’s third bill will further strengthen Maryland’s anti-gang and RICO statutes by expanding the list of gang-related crimes that can be prosecuted across jurisdictional lines.
“With all of these actions we are announcing today, we are saying enough is enough. This is about getting our communities back, getting gangs and violent offenders off the streets, and saving lives,” said the governor.