ANNAPOLIS, MD – Today, the House Republican Caucus announced legislation to address violent crime and remedy several negative consequences of last year’s anti-police laws.
“Ensuring the safety of our citizens, children, communities, and businesses is a fundamental role of government,” said Delegate Jesse Pippy. “We need to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure prosecutors and police have the tools they need to combat the plague of violent crime in our state.”
The No Bail for Violent Criminals Act of 2022 prohibits bail for an individual charged with a crime of violence if the individual has pending charges for a previous crime of violence. The bill also prohibits bail for an individual charged with a crime of violence if they have had a prior conviction for a crime of violence and the individual completed their period of parole and probation within five years of the subsequent charges.
“As we continue to grapple with this crime crisis, we know that the majority of perpetrators are repeat offenders,” said House Minority Leader Jason Buckel, the bill’s lead sponsor. “The No Bail for Violent Criminals Act of 2022 would keep these repeat, violent offenders off the streets while they await justice.”
Last summer, the City of Annapolis was the scene of a senseless crime. While standing on the patio of The Graduate Hotel, Michelle Cummings, the mother of new midshipman was murdered when she was hit by a stray bullet. The gunman, Angelo Harrod, had eight prior violent crime convictions. He was put on home detention while he awaited trial on handgun and drug charges, but he had cut off his ankle bracelet. The day he shot Michelle Cummings, he had fired a gun multiple times at two people in a parked car about a block away.
“It is a tragedy that Michelle Cummings is not here today with her family and is heartbreaking that she does not get to be the proud mother watching her son Trey play football for the Naval Academy,” said Delegate Buckel. “It is also infuriating that she is not here because a brutal predator, with an extensive history of violence, was given the opportunity to walk free after being charged with yet another violent crime. This is madness and it has to stop.”
In a state with expanding sanctuary policies, this bill requires state and local correctional facilities to comply with ICE detainers for those convicted of violent crimes, terrorism, and participation in criminal street gangs.
As Maryland continues to struggle to bring this violent crime crisis under control, our public safety professionals need all the tools and information possible to keep our communities safe.
“Public safety should not be dependent on the political agendas of elected officials,” said Delegate Kathy Szeliga, the bill’s primary sponsor. “This legislation only impacts those people who are in our country illegally and doing harm to others. It should be an issue where we can find common ground.”
Two additional bills in this legislative package seek to address two of the many of the negative consequences of the 2021 anti-police laws passed by the Maryland General Assembly. Complying with these onerous new laws has placed additional financial and human resource pressures on local law enforcement agencies who are grossly under-supported while trying to keep our communities safe.
This bill would allow municipalities to have their own accountability boards and administrative charging committees, entities that were created under last year’s police reform legislation. Under current law, complaints made against a municipal police department would be heard at the county level, thus eliminating the local community from the review process.
“We know that neighborhood policing and the relationships these strategies foster between law enforcement and the community are a public safety success story,” said Delegate Brenda Thiam, the bill’s primary sponsor. “When the community has complaints and concerns about their local law enforcement, they should be part of the process that addresses them. Under current law, they are left out of the process. This bill will create accountability boards and administrative charging at the municipal level to keep the community involved in promoting public safety in their cities, towns and neighborhoods.”
Law enforcement agencies across the state are working to implement body-worn cameras and the associated processes for handling footage, etc. This was an unfunded mandate and statewide law enforcement agencies are bearing the costs of implementing a body-worn camera program when their resources are already limited.
This bill makes the State responsible for the costs and expenses associated with the procurement, implementation and ongoing operating costs of body-worn cameras
According to a 2021 study from Energetics Technology Center, the average annual contract cost of a body-worn camera program in Maryland, including support personnel costs was $2445 per officer per camera. This results in a statewide total cost of $32,415,820, including municipalities – a $32 million unfunded mandate on our law enforcement agencies.
“Local law enforcement agencies are struggling to keep up with the new administrative requirements placed on them by laws passed last year,” said Delegate Carl Anderton, the bill’s primary sponsor. “Especially for smaller, rural police departments, the costs associated with implementing body-worn cameras and other mandates are crippling their budgets. If the State wishes to mandate their use, then the state should pay for it, so that law enforcement agencies can direct their limited funds to activities we know support public safety.”
“There is no one solution to address violent crime in Maryland,” said Delegate Pippy. “Every member of the General Assembly wants safer communities. The members of the House Republican Caucus are offering reasonable solutions to help achieve this goal and make Maryland a safe place to live, work, learn, and retire.”