State lawmakers working to stop Baltimore violence
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WBFF) - From witness protection to gun trafficking, state lawmakers are already working on introducing legislation to stop the record levels of violence in Baltimore in the upcoming session.
Maryland State Sen. Bobby Zirkin called Tuesday’s hearing in Annapolis to get a thorough understanding of the problems the city is facing and to figure out where the state can step in to help.
The meeting lasted for nearly nine hours as two dozen legislators questioned city officials, panels of experts and concerned citizens.
“It was a great briefing, long but very important,” said Zirkin.
The committees heard testimony from seven different panels of experts and officials with the goal of putting together a comprehensive bill to combat the extreme violence in the city.
The legislation would span three committees focused on Judicial Proceedings, Budget and Tax, Education, Health and Environmental Affairs.
Mayor Catherine Pugh called the hearing a success.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have presented [Tuesday] because I think they were more than well-informed on what we are doing," she said.
Zirkin said he learned a lot from the 29 panelists who spoke.
“We need to really address the short game and the long game. There's a short game of getting the spike in violence under control and there’s the long game of decreasing it in a more permanent fashion," he said.
Zirkin made a list of more than 60 points with areas that need attention or funding, some will be easier than others, “In the funding part, Councilman Brandon Scott and the Mayor both talked about Safe Streets. That seems like an easy one,” Zirkin says, “There are four sites in Baltimore right now and they'd like to have one in each of the precincts. That's five additional sites, that's $2.5 or $3 million in funding for that.”
That’s just scratching the surface, “From the Judicial Proceedings fund we're going to be looking at gun trafficking and tracing the illegal guns coming into Maryland, looking at gun crimes, witness intimidation. All of those things are going to be within the package.”
The hearing went until almost 10:00pm. Zirkin plans on hosting another hearing, this time in Baltimore, so more of the public can attend.