Maryland Gov. Moore says public safety is a priority, but offers few details

Published 1/19/2023 3:20 p.m. EST, Updated 1/19/2023 3:49 p.m. EST

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore talks about violent crime during a press conference at the State House in Annapolis on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

On his first day in office, Gov. Wes Moore said he wanted to emphasize that combating violence would be a top priority for his administration, but he offered few specifics on his crime-fighting strategy.

Moore held a private meeting at the State House with Attorney General Anthony Brown and Erek L. Barron, the U.S. Attorney for Maryland. All three said afterward that they look forward to working together to make Maryland a safer state.

“We wanted to have time to be able to spend time with the attorney general, with the U.S. attorney, to be able to see the partnership in a different way, to be able to say that we’re going to move collaboratively,” Moore said to reporters in a question and answer session after the meeting.

He continued: “We want everybody in the state of Maryland to know that is an issue, the issue of public safety is one that we plan on focusing on within our administration.”

U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek Barron, left, and Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown talk in the State House in Annapolis on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

Moore, Barron and Brown — all Democrats — spoke broadly about fostering better collaboration and using the various resources at their disposal to prevent and combat violent crime, such as intelligence-sharing networks.

And Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller talked about the need to improve access to mental and behavioral health care, including within the criminal justice system.

But when Moore was asked about specific new steps he might take as governor, he didn’t commit to any policies or actions.

Moore did not directly answer questions about whether punishments should be increased for repeat violent offenders who use guns — as former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan had proposed — or whether juvenile justice reforms need to be reconsidered.

Moore also talked about the need to better staff the state’s Division of Parole and Probation, but when pressed for more about those plans, he said to stay tuned for his budget proposal on Friday. “We’ll very aggressively and swiftly work to address those issues,” he said.

Moore’s initial meeting on crime did not include any representatives from Baltimore, the state’s largest city that has been struggling with persistently high levels of violence, including more than 300 homicides a year in recent years.

Asked about the lack of Baltimore representation, Moore said it was important to start first with the attorney general and the U.S. attorney. But he also said he would look forward to working with Baltimore officials.

“The collaboration that we’re going to have with the new state’s attorney for Baltimore City, with the police commissioner, with City Hall is going to be important and imperative,” Moore said.

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