Public Safety

As a teacher and principal, John has lost students to gun violence. He’s sat in living rooms with grieving parents, and seen the lasting pain that gun violence inflicts. He knows that public safety is foundational to exercising all of our other rights, and is committed to making Baltimore a safer, more thriving place for everyone. 

Unfortunately, Baltimore has a very real public safety crisis right now – and the next governor must work with local elected officials and leaders to remedy it. 

Several of John’s opponents running for governor have focused solely on MORE policing and MORE funding for the police departments. The newest budget proposal for Baltimore invests more in policing than it does in our schools, housing, parks, or mental health services. However, historically we’ve seen that if JUST spending on police was an effective strategy, Baltimore City would be incredibly safe right now.

Baltimore has the third highest rate of police-to-civilians in the country – behind only Wilmington, DE and Washington, DC. The Baltimore Police Department is among the highest funded departments in the nation – with Baltimore City residents paying $956 per capita for police. Yet, despite the robust funding and the size of the department, Baltimoreans do not feel safe. The homicide clearance rates are below the national average of comparable cities, but over 80% of arrests made by the Baltimore Police Department are for minor and nonviolent offenses.  Over-policing and mass incarceration are not the answer.  

Policing is necessary, but not sufficient, for public safety. What we need is an approach that reimagines public safety. 

As governor, John will: 

  • Immediately improve the state’s oversight of parole, probation, and home detention and ensure adequate staffing.
  • Take a Policing PLUS approach to public safety, and make sure that the police have the ability to focus on preventing violent crime, cracking down on illegal firearms, and improving the homicide clearance rate. We need Policing PLUS substantial investment in:
    • mental health and addiction treatment services
    • violence interruption programs
    • re-entry programs for formerly incarcerated Baltimoreans
    • recreation centers in underserved communities
    • summer job programs for teenagers
    • apprenticeship programs that unlock economic opportunity
  • Expand the use of crisis response units where mental health professionals respond to calls related to mental health crises alongside police officers.
  • Invest in and partner with Safe Streets and other proven, community-based violence prevention programs. 
  • Create effective behavioral intervention programs for people with a history of gun offenses to prevent re-offending, as currently such programs are few and far between in Baltimore.
  • Enforce Maryland’s new ban on ghost guns, and pass stronger Child Access Prevention and Safe Storage laws. 
  • Fix Baltimore Police Department’s handling of evidence, which at one point had half its 3,000,000 items in inventory unaccounted for in its official evidence tracking software, creating a significant roadblock to successfully finding and prosecuting violent crime.
  • Enforce the statewide policies on collection, testing and retention of medical forensic evidence in sexual assault cases, as Maryland still has a large backlog of untested evidence kits.
  • Implement a focused deterrence program around gun violence by prioritizing individuals who are high risk instead of relying on biased “stop-and-search”.
  • Break the cycle of mass incarceration, and ensure that there are economic & educational supports in place for incarcerated & formerly-incarcerated people. 
    • Increase investments in community-centric restorative justice programs that break cycles of incarceration through education, job training, and addiction recovery; treat people who are incarcerated with dignity; and make sure there are systems in place that properly support them when they return home.
    • Legalize recreational cannabis across the state and expunge the records of all nonviolent offenders incarcerated for cannabis-related charges.
    • Build on policing reforms that increase trust and accountability between police and the communities they serve, including ending qualified immunity and accelerating the implementation of body cameras.