WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Crime has been a vexing problem in pockets of the state and has become an important issue in the Maryland governor’s race.
Cities like Baltimore have struggled to deal with murders and other violent crimes, while Prince George’s County has had its own serious and deadly crime spikes.
DC News Now sat down with Democrat Wes Moore and Republican Dan Cox to discuss the issues and the first focus is on how they would deal with crime as governor.
To be sure, both candidates have some similar and different approaches to crime prevention. While both support community policing, Moore says better training, better pay and accountability need to be emphasized along with fixing the parole and probation system.
Cox said cops need immunity protection along with increased pay and that taking any funds away from law enforcement is wrong.
“The number one job for any chief executive is public safety. The number one job is ensuring that people can feel safe,” said Moore, 43, who lives in Baltimore. “For people who are wearing the uniform, this is a public service.”
The local jurisdictions, Moore said, “need a partner” with the governor’s office and that includes fixing “a broken parole and probation system where a third who commit violent crime are on probation.
“We know who the individuals are and they continue to get back on our streets and commit violent crimes,” he said. “We have to have a state that’s willing to work in partnership to fix the department of parole and probation.”
Cox, 48, said community policing is in his crime reduction plan “because I believe in the fact that we need to have our officers living in the community if at all possible.”
The Frederick delegate said cities like Baltimore are down hundreds of officers and that the problem is bigger than even law enforcement there admits.
“So when I’m talking about in addition to community policing, I’m talking about increasing police officers, it’s not increasing them inappropriately, it’s simply making up the gaps,” he said.
He scoffs at calls to defund the police or transfer funds from police departments to subsidize social services given all the calls for accountability over police overreach in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minnesota.
Many communities “that call for help” and there’s “someone at the end of the telephone that says as soon as we can we’ll get there,” Cox said. “And many times that’s more than 30 minutes right now. That’s too long.”
Moore said he’d use “the bully pulpit” of the governor’s office to help recruit officers despite how trends show it’s hard to recruit new people into law enforcement.
“You need to have a chief executive who is going to incentivize and encourage people to want to join the profession,” he said.
The profession needs to be respected like firefighters and teachers but also give them “the proper training and the proper support” system.
“We are going to demand that we have a policing force that moves in appropriate intensity, absolute integrity and full accountability,” Moore added.
Cox said he wants to “restore qualified immunity” for officers because so many have taken a beating in the public view. “Who would want to be a police officer if you don’t have due process?” Cox asked.
Moore said, “we’re never going to arrest or militarize our way out of this problem.”
Cox said about police, “we need to make sure that we have their backs and make sure that they have the funding that they need.”