After defunding police in 2020, violence-plagued Baltimore looks to huge increase in police budget

BALTIMORE, MD – In a reversal of a defunding move last year, Baltimore’s spending board has approved a proposed budget which includes an increase in police spending.

In June of 2020, in the wake of demands from protesters to defund the police, the Baltimore City Council approved a $22.4 million cut to Baltimore’s $550 million police budget, with the approval of then-mayor Jack Young.  Cuts included $6 million slashed from police overtime, and $1.8 million cut from police marine and mounted units.

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, however, Baltimore’s spending board gave the nod to a proposed $28 million increase in police spending.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the city’s budget, totaling $4.3 billion, was approved 4-0, with one abstention.

The proposed police budget is now to total $555 million.  Line item details will not be available for several days, but the Baltimore Sun reports that:

“City budget officials have said the increase does not fund new programs and is instead needed to pay for employee health insurance and higher obligations for police pensions.”

This is the first budget proposal under new Democratic Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, who took office in December of 2020.

Scott has come under fire for the proposed increase in police spending from local residents who have been consistently calling for defunding the police.

The Baltimore Sun reports that at an April Taxpayer’s Meeting, “[a]ngry residents” were decrying the proposed police budget increase, demanding instead that $100 million be cut from the police budget, and for millions to be added to “social programs such as affordable housing, after-school programs, crisis centers and substance abuse treatment.”

At that meeting, the Sun notes, Scott defended the budget, saying it meant that there would be a “‘continuity of services’” as Baltimore continues to deal with the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

Scott added that the budget does not “reflect the direction I want to and we will move in the future.”

Indeed, Scott’s approval of a police budget increase at this time may not indicate his long-term strategy when it comes to dealing with police and crime in Baltimore.

The Sun reports that Scott has advocated for diverting some 911 calls to “crisis counselors,” and “rethinking how much money is spent on police.”  

In addition, the Sun notes that he has “advocated in the past for cuts to police spending in favor of community enrichment efforts.”  

Scott also announced in April his plans for a Task Force that would look into decreasing the police budget over five years.

But for now, the mayor is dealing with an increase in violent crime in Baltimore, with homicides up 17% over last year at this time.  

Persistent gun violence in Baltimore, according to crime analyst Jeff Asher, is also deeply concerning, as it has “settled into a long-term trend.”

Shocking violence against children has even made recent headlines in the city, as 5 children under the age of 18 were shot in less than a week in March.

The violent trends have led to pressure on Scott from Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan, with Hogan “repeatedly lobb[ing] criticism” against Scott over Baltimore crime.

On May 4, Hogan pointed to Baltimore’s violent crime issues and spoke specifically against police defunding, writing on Twitter:

“The increase of violent crime in Baltimore City is unacceptable. 

“Rather than defunding our police, we need to invest more in law enforcement, pass better laws to hold violent criminals accountable, and we need prosecutors who will actually prosecute those laws.”

Mayor Scott responded with a tweet of his own, saying:

“Rather than relying solely on status quo “solutions” and #MAGA talking points, how about actually meeting with me to discuss violent crime, gun trafficking, or restarting the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council — as I’ve asked before?

“@GovLarryHogan, I’m ready when you are.”

After this tense exchange, the pair agreed to a closed-door meeting in Annapolis on May 13 to discuss the violent crime situation further.  Details are unavailable at this time, but Scott reported the exchange as “very productive” and that he made progress in coordinating with the State.

So at this point, Mayor Scott and Governor Hogan appear to be in agreement that defunding the police in Baltimore is not the proper approach right now.

Given the increasing violence that continues to plague Baltimore, one might wonder whether local residents might consider taking a step back to weigh the current direction of both the Governor and Mayor.

Instead, the push for defunding is expected to continue, even as homicides have increased.

An article by The Real News suggests that one explanation for residents’ continued desire to defund police is, in an interesting twist, the increase in crime.

The authors point to an organization called Organizing Black, whose message to residents is that money is “wasted” on policing in Baltimore.  They suggest that Organizing Black has implied to residents a correlation between police budget and increasing crime, saying:

“As the police budget grows each year, homicides and nonfatal shootings increase as well.”

The authors also suggest that continued support for police defunding exists because “Baltimore has tried just about everything other than defunding its police.”

For example, they note that the ACLU has sued the city twice over “unconstitutional policing.” In addition, they state that the police department has had 10 commissioners since 2000, and has been under DOJ investigation for civil rights violations.

Whether many Baltimore locals continue to justify defunding as an approach to handling crime, or as something they feel simply needs to be tried, or even simply because they dislike the police, they most certainly will be watching the continued budget process and the actions of Mayor Scott and the City Council closely.

Baltimore’s budget will be in the hands of the City Council beginning Monday, May 17, and the final budget must be approved by June 24.

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As violence explodes in Baltimore, city to launch program where mental health professionals will respond to certain 911 calls

BALTIMORE, MD- As crime explodes in Baltimore, Maryland, as it is in overwhelmingly Democrat-run cities across the country, the mayor of that city announced a pilot program which will direct some 911 calls to mental health professionals instead of police WJZ-13 in the Charm City announced.

For many residents of Baltimore, it has been anything but charming.

 

Mayor Brandon Scott, in announcing the controversial program, said that it is not about defunding the police, but rather directing police resources where they are most needed, focusing on violent offenders rather than dealing with persons having behavioral health issues.

Scott announced the program which will divert those 911 calls—averaging about 36 per day—to specialized counselors.

“Think about the sheer number of hours that our police officers are actually out dealing with something that they’re not trained to do, versus being out there going after someone who’s committed an armed carjacking,” Scott said.

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen supports the project.

“You wouldn’t call a lawyer to deliver a baby, and we shouldn’t call upon our police to have to respond to all these other situations,” he said.

Last week, the Baltimore Sun reported that the program, called “911 Diversion Pilot,” is designed “to connect callers with the most appropriate resources and responses for their needs.”

The report said that pursuant to a 2015 study from the Treatment Advocacy Center, “people with untreated mental illness were more likely to die during an altercation with police officers than those without mental illness.”

During that Friday news conference, Scott reiterated that the pilot program is not about defunding the police.

“This pilot is not about defunding the police, but rather acknowledging that the police department cannot tackle violent crime, our fire department cannot tackle public health and mental emergencies—and everything else.”

The Blaze reported that the program when it starts in June is being sold as not costing the city additional moneys as Baltimore already has existing contracts with all nonprofit organizations providing the counselors’ care and participation in the new program.

One Baltimore resident, Denise Mack said the violence is out of control and needs to stop.

“[I]t’s just getting worse,” she told the television outlet. “You’ve got to go to funerals, got to see your son or nephew lying there. It’s bad. I just wish everyone would get themselves together.”

Crime statistics show that homicides in Baltimore have increased by 15% compared to the same time period last year.

Another woman interviewed by WJZ, who didn’t want to show her face lives near the area where two teenagers were shot earlier this week.

“People are dying right and left. Every other day you hear somebody shooting somebody,” she said.

One victim was in the city to attend a wedding when he was shot and killed. Efraim Gordon was visiting Baltimore from Israel when he was killed Monday.

Gordon’s family raised money to send his body back home for burial and has vowed not to rest until police solve his killing. There is currently a $30,000 reward being offered by Metro Crime Stoppers for arrest and conviction of the suspect(s).

“We are not going to leave any stone unturned,” his family vowed in a statement.

Tuesday, two women were beaten inside their West Baltimore store with a cinderblock. The two AAPI women of Korean descent were inside the Wonderland Liquor Store on Pennsylvania Ave when the unprovoked attack occurred.

Surveillance video showed one of the women walking to the front of the store to close shop when she was approached by a man wearing a red shirt, who pulled her to the ground and started beating her with a cinder block. The other woman in the store stepped in to help and she was likewise struck in the head.

 

Shortly afterward, Baltimore Police arrested 50-year-old Daryl Doyles for assaulting the two women, charging him with aggravated assault.

According to sources, the Baltimore Police Department is currently down some 700 police officers, with two precincts being forced to close due to lack of staffing.

This is part of a pattern all across the country where officers, tired of being punching bags for the radical left, are either taking early retirement or heading for more peaceful environs in the suburbs.

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Author: Lizzy Murica


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