Crime is down in Baltimore, but that's not enough.
According to the Baltimore Sun, "Homicides have fallen about 7 percent to 222, giving the city its lowest number since the late 1980s, just before the [drug] epidemic sent crime soaring nationwide. Nonfatal shootings have fallen nearly 40 percent since 2007, while reported robberies, which police said would be a focus this year, dropped 8 percent compared with a year ago. Crimes involving juvenile victims continued to decline, too."
Mayor Rawlings-Blake's tough crime strategy delivered immediate results in 2010, the Mayor's first year in office.
• Lowest homicide count since 1985, a 25-year low
• Gun homicides down 13%
• Juvenile homicides and shootings down 35%
• Overall gun crime down 16% from 2009
• 498 fewer victims of gun
But Mayor Rawlings-Blake knows that we must do more to protect our citizens. Her plan is tough, smart and preventive.
• Tougher Penalties for Illegal Guns – Mayor Rawlings-Blake will continue to lead the fight for stronger state laws and penalties for illegal gun possession and tougher penalties for repeat violent criminals carrying guns. Mayor Rawlings-Blake fought successfully to pass tougher sentencing options for felons in possession firearms who have previous convictions for a violent crime or drug felony by creating a tougher sentencing range of 5 years minimum to 15 years maximum and by closing a loophole that exempted rifles and shotguns. These tougher penalties will provide police and prosecutors a much-needed tool in their efforts to combat gun violence in Baltimore.
According to the Baltimore Sun, "Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has made curtailing gun crime a centerpiece of her administration … and she devoted a good chunk of her recent State of the City address to the importance of getting gun legislation passed." (Baltimore Sun, February 10, 2010) "Rawlings-Blake was the third Baltimore mayor to lobby for such a law -- and the first to succeed." (Baltimore Sun, July, 2011)
• Lock up criminals with a history of violence - Mayor Rawlings-Blake will work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to track down and arrest the most violent and dangerous criminals. The Mayor will continue special warrant initiatives made up of multi-jurisdictional squads to serve warrants and arrest wanted criminals for crimes of violence, including gun crimes, violations of probation, sex offenses and domestic violence.
According to the Baltimore Sun, "Eight squads of state and local officers began searching Tuesday morning for 1,000 people identified as the most serious offenders, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at a news conference. 'By doing so we'll send a strong message to people of Baltimore that we are working very hard and working very smart to make our streets safer,' she said" (Baltimore Sun, May 31, 2011)
• Hire Hundreds of New Police Officers- Mayor Rawlings-Blake is implementing an aggressive plan to hire hundreds of new police officers, building on the 109 new police officers hired during her first year in office. Mayor Rawlings-Blake is fully-funding the Police Department’s budget despite historic budget deficits to ensure that the department is fully staffed to continue the progress made reducing violent crime. The Mayor is supporting a “Hometown Heroes Project”, a new community recruitment initiative designed to encourage City residents to consider careers within the Baltimore Police Department.
• Invest in New Technology - Investing in the latest state-of-the-art crime fighting technology is a key component of the Mayor’s crime fighting platform. Mayor Rawlings-Blake has already added more than 60 new “smart” crime cameras since taking office and is committed to building on this investment every year. The Mayor believes that new technology tools enable police and prosecutors to continue to reduce violent crime and solve difficult cases.\ According to the Baltimore Sun, “Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced an expansion of the city's crime surveillance camera program, with 30 additional cameras going up in Northeast Baltimore… [She] has directed money toward expansion of its network of cameras.” (Baltimore Sun, June 30th 2010)
• Protect Women from Domestic Violence and Abuse -- Mayor Rawlings-Blake will strengthen the Baltimore Police Departments focus on violence against women, including domestic violence and abuse. The Mayor has implemented a new tracking system called “DVstat” to create a stronger system-wide response to repeat abusers in Baltimore to protect women and reduce overall crime. Statistic shows many gun offenders have previous arrests for domestic violence.
• Fully investigate rape and sex crimes – Mayor Rawlings-Blake has made numerous reforms and changes to the way sexual assault cases are handled by the Baltimore Police Department to improve case outcomes for victim-survivors. The Mayor has strengthened the Sexual Assault Response Team which carefully reviews cases and policies to ensure that victim-survivors of sexual assault are treated with dignity and respect and that cases are fully investigated by specially-trained police officers.
• Community-Focused Crime Reduction - Mayor Rawlings-Blake will continue to work with neighborhood groups, community activists and religious leaders to protect all of our citizens. During her time in office, she has encouraged citizens and neighborhood groups to participate in Citizen on Patrol walks in Baltimore’s neighborhoods. The Mayor has also engaged local community groups to lobby Annapolis lawmakers for tougher gun laws and has launched a new initiative to encourage local churches to participate in community service projects with neighborhood associations.
• Reduce Youth Violence – Mayor Rawlings-Blake has focused funding on youth violence prevention programs including the Operation Safe Kids and Operation Safe Streets, which have proven to reduce shootings in targeted neighborhoods. Mayor Rawlings-Blake has also funded effective afterschool programs, neighborhood libraries and over 5000 summer job opportunities for Baltimore's youth. The Mayor's "Youth Budget" invests more than $385 million into programs and facilities that serve Baltimore's youth.
• Protect Anti-Crime Funding and Successful Preventive Programs – Mayor Rawlings-Blake will protect funding for public safety, public schools and city career centers rather than implement radical economic plans that would cut City revenue by up to $400 million and force devastating cuts to essential programs that prevent crime and protect Baltimore's citizens.
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