Following a large-scale law enforcement sweep that led to the arrest of more than 100 people in Baltimore, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) called for lawmakers to put politics aside and pass his crime bills on Friday.
On Friday, Hogan, U.S. Marshall for the District of Maryland Johnny L. Hughes, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) and Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison gathered for a press conference at the federal courthouse in downtown Baltimore to announce the results of “Operation Washout II.”
The multi-agency law enforcement operation, which included state, local and federal officers, resulted in the arrests of 104 people in Baltimore between Jan. 31 and Feb. 11, including five suspects wanted for homicide, nine wanted for attempted homicide, 15 wanted for robbery, and 28 wanted for gun-related offenses. The operation also closed more than 200 open warrants.
“This is yet another example of what we can accomplish when we all work together and when we’re laser-focused on violent crime,” Hogan said. “Now that we’ve apprehended the violent offenders, we need to make sure that they’re prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Hogan used the operation’s success to push again for bills he introduced in Annapolis to increase the transparency of judicial sentencing practices and crackdown on repeat violent gun offenses.
Hogan’s Judicial Transparency Act of 2022, or House Bill 412, would require the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy to track and publish judicial sentencing data for violent crimes.
The 2019 and 2020 iterations of this legislation died in the House Judiciary Committee.
The governor’s Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2022, or House Bill 423, would impose mandatory penalties and increase the length of sentences for people who have been repeatedly convicted of firearms offenses or have been caught with illegally possessed guns.
The bill would also increase penalties for suppliers who give guns to people convicted of repeat firearms offenses.
Previous iterations of that bill have passed out of the Senate chamber but died when they reached the House.
“We have repeatedly proposed this anti-violent crime legislation,” Hogan said at a news conference on Friday. “So on behalf of all the people who are sick and tired of all the senseless violence, and we’re again calling on the legislature to pass our emergency legislation immediately.”
“People are being shot and dying nearly every single day and it’s time to put politics aside and just get this done,” he continued.
Senate Democrats have introduced their own four-pronged public safety package surrounding prevention, intervention, criminal justice and rehabilitation.
Hogan said that his administration is talking with its “partners in the legislature,” including the Legislative Black Caucus and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) with the intentions of “working together with them.”
“But our legislation passed the Senate twice already and failed to pass the House,” he said. “That is the only thing that’s going to allow us to get people to stay behind bars.”
A spokesman for House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the House has been involved in public safety discussions with the governor.
The Senate’s public safety package includes a heavy emphasis on tackling the state’s growing ghost gun problem. The two-week sweep announced Friday uncovered three firearms, one of which was a ghost gun.
Legislation filed on behalf of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) seeks to ban the sale of ghost guns beginning June 1, and prohibit their possession beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
The governor highlighted his desire to pass both of his bills, but said his administration will work with others on the ghost gun legislation and “on many of the other things that they’re talking about.”
Both Hogan’s Violent Firearms Offender Act of 2022 and Frosh’s ghost gun legislation were heard at a Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing on Wednesday.
One member of the public appeared to testify in favor of Hogan’s bill.
Panel after panel of concerned public officials and parents testified in favor of the ban on ghost guns.
During the hearing, committee Chair William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) said he struggles with both bills because they create conflict at the intersection of race and class.
“…The impact of some of the legislation we have before us would be to put more Black and Brown young men, essentially, into jail — on both ends,” Smith continued. ”What the governor’s proposing would do that and, to some extent, so too would this bill.”