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Reinvest 10 -> Crime Prevention

Since police funding was cut in 2020 and the Maryland legislature passed criminal justice reforms in 2021, crime in Maryland has skyrocketed. In Montgomery County alone, the murder rate increased by 105% in 2021, carjackings doubled, and non-fatal shootings increased by 75% [source: Montgomery Community Media].  As evidence of our on-going problem with gangs, gang-related homicides doubled in 2021, while weapons-related crime increased 63% [source: Montgomery County Annual Crime Safety Report for 2021].
 
Though well-intended, the criminal justice reforms passed in the wake of the death of George Floyd have largely backfired, putting our lives and the lives of our families in jeopardy [Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021]. To be successful at crime prevention, we need a different approach
 
As a part of Reinvest 10, my strategy to tackle Maryland’s biggest problems, we need to Reinvest 3% of Maryland’s state budget to:
  • Restore Police Funding – We need to restore the overall police budget to pre-pandemic rates, adjusting for inflation. We also need to require local jurisdictions to restore police funding, until crime rates return to pre-pandemic levels. 
  • Increase Funding for Anti-Gang, Homicide and Auto-Theft Programs —  Since the end of 2020, homicide, carjackings and gang-related activity have proven to be extremely stubborn problems, particularly in Montgomery County.  We need to stem the spike in crime in these areas, by increasing statewide funding for anti-gang, homicide investigation and auto-theft units.
  • Return Officers to Schools – Our schools have never been more vulnerable to crime, from mass shooters to gangs to hate crimes.  We need School Resource Officers (SROs) at EVERY school in Maryland to protect our children from the crime epidemic.
  • Address the Root Causes of Crime – Crime is often a symptom of deeper problems in society. In order to truly prevent crime, we need to address these root causes, including:
    • Invest in our struggling educational system, which is failing to position our children for successful careers;
    • Create decent-paying blue-collar jobs, such as light manufacturing and trades. Little interest is shown by our current legislators in cultivating middle-income, blue-collar jobs, yet they offer the most promise for a stable, prosperous future for our residents who have little interest in a college or advanced degree. We need to make this a priority — both in Maryland and in Montgomery County.
    • Stomp Out Crime Hot Spots — Both common sense and research tell us that criminal activity clusters in the same neighborhoods, where the criminals feel emboldened and the residents are afraid to fight back. As a result, we need to stomp out crime hot spots where crime flourishes, by using a strategy that targets housing, investment, education and criminal behavior all at the same time in these struggling areas.
    • Invest in Youth Activities — As the saying goes, idle hands make the devils work — so all the more reason to keep our kids busy. To do so, we need to invest in youth activities — sports, music and the arts — to keep kids engaged and out of trouble. I’ve been fortunate to help move the ball for on this front for more than five years through the Columbus League, a track and field league based in Montgomery County, Maryland, but one program is not enough.
By making the initial set of changes listed above, we can make a great deal of progress with crime prevention in just a few years.  But, to truly “solve” Maryland’s crime problems will require a sustained effort. We need to not only be willing to make changes now to improve our situation, we need to have the resolve to continue to make improvements throughout our lifetimes. This will take a generation or more to complete.

Authority: Friends of Donald "DP" Patti | Joseph Jurgena, Treasurer
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