Reflections on Yesterday’s Hearing on Violence in Baltimore City
A Message From Bobby
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Gun violence in Baltimore City has shattered so many lives both young and old. We have reached levels of violence that are without precedent. Families are left without loved ones. Communities are held captive. Just recently, an old friend lost his grandson to gun violence in the City which is unfortunately not a unique story. I have had the occasion to speak to students who have lost not one, but multiple friends in their high school class. Our Committee has heard the stories of drug addiction, and child abuse and hopelessness. The daily stories of lives lost has made this issue seem insurmountable.
Yesterday, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the Baltimore City Senate Delegation held a joint hearing on the issue of violence in Baltimore City. We were joined by the Mayor, the City Council President, members of the City Council, State Secretaries of Juvenile Services and Public Safety, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the Police Commissioner, the Superintendent of the State Police, the State’s Attorney and Public Defender’s office, and experts in fields including criminal justice, education, drug treatment, mental health, public health, parks and recreation, and child abuse. The hearing was called to hear creative solutions for the rising violence in Baltimore City, and how the State could assist the City’s efforts. This issue is one of paramount importance not only to the citizens of Baltimore City, but to the entire State. So goes Baltimore, so goes the State and we all have a shared commitment to help in every way we can.
I believe that with a sustained and committed effort working together, we can achieve results in both the short and long term. We are under no illusions that this is either simple or that short term success is guaranteed. But tackling the issue in a comprehensive and holistic way is our best path to success.
The ideas presented in our nine-hour hearing yesterday came from different perspectives. We listened to ideas regarding witness intimidation and relocation, child abuse, community schools, the Safe Streets program, and police technology. We heard testimony about strengthening gun laws not only against those pulling the trigger, but also those illegally transferring and supplying weapons. We began the process of gathering real data about all steps in the criminal justice process from the time the crime is reported through the arrest, trial, sentencing, and post-trial status.
I want to thank the many members of the State Senate and House in attendance at the hearing, as well as the City and State officials who provided the Committees with valuable data. I especially want to thank the many members of the public who stayed with us through nine hours of testimony on these important issues and who testified on various aspects of this issue.
Tackling the violence in Baltimore City, and crime prevention in general, requires an approach that is comprehensive and holistic, and looks to both the short and long term. And it requires something unfortunately uncommon in today’s politics – working together, Democrats and Republicans. We all share a commitment and a responsibility to the City of Baltimore. And as the Chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, I vow to continue this effort as we move to the Legislative Session. Working collaboratively with my colleagues in both the State and City government, and with committed individuals and advocates, we plan to introduce a significant package of legislation to help move this in a better direction. I look forward to continuing this critical discussion.