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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore proposes public safety measures


Maryland Gov. Wes Moore outlined three measures on Tuesday that he is prioritizing to improve public safety, including a new statewide center to help prevent gun violence.

The governor held a news conference to discuss the bills a day before the Maryland General Assembly gathers for its 90-day legislative session.

“We have got to confront this inexcusable fact that 75% of all homicides in Maryland are committed with a gun," Moore, a Democrat, said. "This is a public safety crisis, but it’s also a public health crisis. We need to get these illegal guns off of our streets, and we will.”

Moore noted that President Joe Biden created the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention and has recommended that states create their own offices.

Rob Wilcox, deputy director of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, thanked the governor for taking the step to create a state-level office. He described it as a critical step to focus investments and drive strategies to prevent gun violence.

“What we need is partnership," Wilcox said. "What we need is an ecosystem where the federal government and its agencies have partners at the state level, partners at the local level, so we can make sure important funding dollars and important priorities get to where they need to go.”

The governor also is submitting legislation to increase apprenticeships in public safety to help boost the ranks of law enforcement officers.

“This legislation will build stronger pipelines to law enforcement jobs for all Marylanders, even those who do not pursue a four-year college degree,” Moore said. “And as we contend with workforce shortages across our public safety agencies, this bill will help us get more boots on the ground and help us to keep the boots that we already have.”

Moore also said he is introducing a measure to compensate victims of crime.

“When people feel safe and feel like justice will be served, then we have a better chance of getting convictions and actually closing cases," Moore said. "And by forging stronger bonds with victims of crime, we can help break the cycles of violence in our communities, and that’s why this bill matters.”

Juvenile justice reforms are also expected to be taken up by state lawmakers. Moore said his administration will be an active participant in those conversations.

“We need to think seriously about lengthening probation for juveniles guilty of gun crimes, because that way we give juveniles the additional time to complete necessary rehabilitation programs," Moore said.

The governor also said Maryland needs more accountability in its juvenile justice system for youths who repeatedly violate the law.

“I believe in rehabilitation, but I will not tolerate lawlessness," Moore said. "We need accountability for the young person who picks up a handgun and threatens the safety of their neighbors. You cannot destroy the lives of other people and believe there will be no consequences.”

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