Governor Martin O'Malley convened the latest in his series of "Maryland Forward" policy forums today in Baltimore, focused on guns and gang violence. Joined by Mayor Rawlings-Blake as well as law enforcement and public safety stakeholders, Governor O'Malley facilitated a discussion on progress and opportunities for collaboration in the areas of guns and gang violence. During the presentation, Governor O'Malley introduced a new, comprehensive warrant database supplying a searchable collection of all open warrants in Maryland, accessible by law enforcement agencies statewide.
"Even in tough times, we've protected our investments in public safety, maintaining our commitment to protecting Maryland neighborhoods and families. Thanks to these efforts, together, we've driven violent crime, property crime and total crime to the lowest rates ever recorded," said Governor O'Malley. "But in order to maintain this commitment of a safer Maryland, we must continue to provide the latest, most innovative tools to law enforcement and continue this ongoing dialogue with the men and women on the front lines of keeping our neighborhoods safe."
"I want to thank Governor O'Malley and Lt. Governor Brown for creating an opportunity for local, state and federal criminal justice partners to come together to share ideas about how to reduce violent crime, particularly gun crime in Baltimore," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Attacking gun crime requires a collaborative approach between law enforcement, prosecutors, and other criminal justice partners at the city, state and federal level."
Governor O'Malley introduced today a comprehensive warrant database, which for the first time in Maryland history, allows the Maryland Judiciary to supply a feed of all open warrants to the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services. Using the Law Enforcement Dashboard, officers will now be able to view, search, map, and run reports on open warrants. This will help establish unprecedented prioritization and collaboration in the fight against crime.
In addition, today's discussion included the introduction of new facial recognition software for public safety use. The technology matches a police department's photographs against 2.1 million criminal booking images held by the State. This will enable investigators at a desk or in car to hone in rapidly on the identity of suspects or victims. It can save countless hours of work, and sharply increase law enforcement's efficiency.
Through the innovative use of public safety technology, unprecedented information sharing across borders, and strategic reforming of long-troubled public safety state agencies, law enforcement personnel throughout Maryland have driven crime to historic lows:
* Violent crime at its lowest rate ever reported.
* Homicides at their lowest rate ever reported.
* Robberies at their lowest rate ever reported.
* Aggravated Assaults at their lowest rate since 1976.
* Motor vehicle thefts at their lowest rate ever reported.
* Property crime at its lowest rate ever reported.
* Total crime at its lowest rate ever reported.
This legislative session, Governor O'Malley has introduced three pieces of legislation related to public safety. One piece of legislation would make it a separate crime to intentionally fail to provide necessary assistance and resources for a minor. In addition, the Governor has introduced two pieces of legislation related to gun violence. One bill would close a loophole in current Maryland law regarding persons who commit felonies and crimes of violence with firearms. A second bill would reduce good time / dimunition credits for serious gun offenders to ensure that the sentences they receive are commensurate with the crime they committed.
Prior to his inauguration for a second term, Governor O'Malley convened a series of five "Maryland Forward" forums designed to gather the input of various stakeholders, including recommendations for legislative in areas including jobs and the economy; skills and education; sustainability; children and health; and public safety and security. These day-long summits brought together stakeholders to generate concrete actions and recommendations that support the Administration's strategic goals.
Following that series, Governor O'Malley has convened smaller groups of local stakeholders, including today's discussion and throughout the 2011 legislative session, focused on specific policy areas that will help Maryland be a winner in the new economy, protect our neighborhoods, and create jobs.