WASHINGTON INFORMER: Md. Gubernatorial Candidates Highlight Public Safety Proposals

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During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, law enforcement, government officials and community leaders are pushing collaborative efforts to decrease crimes such as gun violence and carjackings.

According to Prince George’s County police, between July 30 and July 31 six people died from fatal shootings, including 17-year-old Kyree Duvall of Hillcrest Heights.

As of Sunday, Aug. 8, a Baltimore Sun database shows Baltimore City recorded 202 homicides this year. At that pace, the city could reach 300 homicides for a seventh straight year.

Maryland gubernatorial candidates Jon Baron, Ashwani Jain and Comptroller Peter Franchot released public safety plans in hopes of decreasing violence not only in those majority-Black jurisdictions but the entire state.

Baron, who said Aug. 6 that he is the first Democratic candidate to release such a plan, asserted his public safety initiative presents a solution in four parts: focused deterrence, voluntary drug treatment court, prison therapy for inmates scheduled for release and intervention for at-risk youth.

“This is a thoughtful, strategic way of going about reducing violence and improving safety,” the former nonprofit executive said in an interview Sunday. “The usual approach is to roll out one new plan after another and say, ‘This is the next new thing,’ with no new evidence behind it.”

One part of Baron’s plan would utilize Baltimore’s “focused deterrence” program and make it statewide.

Last month, Mayor Brandon Scott announced a five-year plan to reduce gun violence by 15 percent through an approach where government officials, law enforcement and community leaders work hand-in-hand.

The initiative, which includes job training and substance abuse treatment, would be paid for from the city’s $640 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan.

According to National Institute of Justice data, Oakland, Calif.’s deterrence program decreased total shootings by 20 percent per year.

In Baltimore, the plan also offers those who may become repeat offenders a choice for a better life than running the streets.

“If they don’t accept the offer and continue to act violently, then they will be subject to strong, focused attention from law enforcement,” Baron said. “It really offers them a positive way forward.”

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