Flanked by law enforcement officials, Hogan said Friday that he plans to boost policing efforts by $150 million over the next year, including $120 million to local and state agencies to help pay for salary increases, bonuses, body cameras and training. He said $45 million will be given to local jurisdictions to increase police aid, but he provided no details on how much each would receive.
Hogan criticized efforts to fight crime by diverting some money from the police to other programs, calling it “dangerous, radical far-left lunancy.”
He said the “unconscionable actions of a few” officers has led to an “all-out assault on the entire law enforcement community. . . . The reality is our police are underfunded and under attack. . . . We cannot defund the police, we need to re-fund the police.”
Over the years Hogan has repeatedly been at odds with advocates and the Democratic-controlled legislature over strategies to reduce crime.
He has pushed for more money and tougher sentencing. Many lawmakers, particularly those from Baltimore, have advocated for a more nuanced approach that addresses poverty, including additional funds for schools, social services and community programs.
House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) said Hogan’s “misguided rhetoric of ‘re-fund the police’ is beneath him and the dignity of his office.” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) said reducing crime and gun violence “requires vast coordination among state and federal partners, not tactless finger pointing.”
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said he will always support investments to improve public safety. But, police are just one part of the solution, he said. “Genuinely improving public safety isn’t about just writing a bigger check,” he said in a statement. “A real effort to stop violence and make communities safe requires a coordinated plan that gets executed purposely every day. It includes strategies that recognize poverty and opportunity shape the outcome of individuals. Divisive rhetoric does not make us safer, and we hope the Administration will join us moving forward to focus on problem solving.”
Krystal Oriadha, who sat on Prince George’s County’s police reform work group last year, said the framing of Hogan’s “re-funding” initiative is a “slap in the face” to the community organizers who have been asking lawmakers to divest from law enforcement and reallocate the money toward social services, mental health and infrastructure.
“Issues of salary and retention came up for the police department, but that wasn’t the issue for the community,” said Oriadha, who co-founded the advocacy group PG Change Makers. “The community was talking about the devaluing of people of color and their lives and their bodies, so to me, saying you’re investing in police rather than in the communities and in the root causes of crime. . . . That’s a slap in the face to exactly what those work groups and commissions were put together for.”
Earlier this year the General Assembly passed sweeping policing overhauls, aimed at promoting accountability and transparency. Hogan vetoed virtually all of the measures.
Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) posted on social media that the state needs to look at policing with a two-pronged approach, increasing accountability and investing in attracting the best officers.
The majority of the money will be spent on local and state departments, while the balance of the $150 million will be used for grants to enhance neighborhood safety and to support programs for victims. The $10 million for safer neighborhoods will pay for hardware upgrades, lighting, cameras and increased security services for community organizations and business districts.
Some of the money will begin flowing to departments soon, Hogan said. The rest will be a part of his January budget proposal, which has to be approved by the legislature.
Angelo Consoli, who is president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge for Prince George’s County and 2nd vice president of the Maryland State Lodge, applauded Hogan for his plan.
He said education, training, recruitment and retention are “critical pieces that must be expanded for us as a society to get to where we want to get with police reform and to keep and attract quality officers.” He added: “Defunding police accomplishes nothing and will never be the solution or put us on any kind of path to police reform or a safer community.”
Oriadha did offer praise for the governor’s plan to provide more funds for victims’ services and added that more money for accountability measures like body-worn cameras is crucial to reform efforts. But, she said, “what’s really harmful is the . . . messaging and the way [Hogan’s plan] is packaged.”
A spokesman for Hogan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.