By Kate Ryan
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore is directing $5 million in federal funds in the effort to fight violent crime in the state.
Moore made the announcement during a news conference Thursday at the State House in Annapolis, saying his administration would take a “comprehensive” approach to combating crime, enlisting the efforts of numerous agencies, not just law enforcement, in dealing with violence that’s affected Maryland communities.
While Moore emphasized prevention efforts, he also insisted that criminals would be held accountable. He said under his “Safe Summer Initiative,” government would “act on public safety in a way that is robust, in a way that is strategic, in a way that moves with an urgency that the issue demands.”
Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Roland Butler said because reports of auto theft have increased in Prince George’s, Montgomery and Anne Arundel Counties, his agency is working with regional teams “that focus on reduction of auto theft and dismantling theft rings.”
“To meet this moment, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Maryland Secretary of Juvenile Services Vincent Schiraldi said, pledging his department would be “ready to do our part.”
Schiraldi said more resources would be directed to Prince George’s, Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City, which he said account for 75% of the youth violence referrals in the state.
The push to prevent crime even includes participation by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. DNR Secretary Josh Kurtz said his agency is offering paid employment to young people in the juvenile justice system.
In his department, Kurtz said kids would learn “tools they need to thrive through hard skills” such as construction, trail maintenance and more, while also learning “soft skills” such as workplace etiquette, customer service and team-building.
Moore also said, in order to curb crime, communities need to take an active role in the lives of young people, “to make sure that our kids are doing the right thing,” adding laws should not be the only guidelines young people have to direct them away from crime.
Maryland State Sen. Steve Hershey, the Senate minority leader, issued a statement saying Republicans were “disappointed” with what he said was a “lack of urgency” in Moore’s safety plan.
“With the summer months before us, there were no substantial changes and no bold plans for immediately addressing violent crime in our communities,” Hershey said.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, a Democrat, offered a different view on the plan.
“We are excited about Gov. Moore’s new Safe Summer Initiative, which puts together a comprehensive public safety plan for Maryland.”
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