Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh announced a violent crime plan and appointed a new criminal justice director Wednesday, just days after the city failed to go 72 hours without a murder in the “nobody kill anybody” weekend campaign.
Pugh’s plan aims to reverse this year’s spike in violent crime in the city, which has suffered 212 murders in 219 days. The mayor tapped Baltimore police chief of staff Drew Vetter to head the criminal justice office, the Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday. Her policy plan addresses three areas she believes are the root cause of violent crime: poorly trained police, poor drug policy, and an under-educated populace. (RELATED: Baltimore’s ‘Nobody Kill Anybody’ Weekend Lasted For A Good 24 Hours)
The city recently finished a consent decree with the Department of Justice. They decided to completely overhaul the city’s police department under oversight from a judge-appointed monitor. Pugh also wants to invest in training police to focus on increasing clearance rates. (RELATED: WATCH: Baltimore Police Officer Plants Drugs On Crime Scene)
Pugh’s plan also addresses a criminal justice reform topic that has enjoyed wide bipartisan support across the country, which is lowering sentences for drug crimes. Her plan calls for increased investment in drug treatment programs and other penal alternatives to prisons, WBAL reported.
She also wants narcan, an overdose reversal drug, to be more accessible in the city.
Her final major reform is to make Baltimore’s community colleges offer a free two-year program to seniors graduating from local high schools, claiming violent crime is often caused by a lack of opportunity.
“Community college has become critical in providing the necessary education and training that high school graduates need to pursue a trade or a four-year degree,” Pugh said during the announcement.
Lawmakers also praised her choice of Vetter in her long-anticipated appointment of a new criminal justice office head.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Drew over the last four years in many capacities,” Democrat State Sen. Bill Ferguson told the Sun. “He is smart, driven and thoughtful. The mayor has appointed a talented public servant who understands the limits and capacity of the Baltimore Police Department and government overall.”
Pugh said her long term goals for the city are to develop more affordable housing and further facilitate opportunity through government programs.
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