MARYLAND, USA — Governor Larry Hogan announced on Monday that he would expand his "Refund the Police" initiative, which would provide $500 million in funding over three years for law enforcement agencies and public safety around the state.
As part of the plan, $220 million would be directed towards boosting salaries and providing bonuses for officers. The expansion came after Governor Hogan first announced the initiative in October and pledged to provide $150 million for law enforcement departments and public safety programs.
The expanded initiative includes:
- $137 million for a 50% increase in state police aid to local jurisdictions around Maryland
- $50 million for major capital improvements for Maryland State Police barracks and a new tactical services building for the Special Operations Division
- $37 million for victim services providers
- $30 million for Neighborhood Safety Grants that will support technology upgrades, cameras, and more security services for community organizations, business districts, and main streets.
During the announcement on Monday, the governor said boosting funding for police was critical.
"Even in the most progressive cities all across the country, leaders are now following our lead and admitting that instead of defunding, they need more investment in public safety,” said Governor Hogan. “There is nothing more important than addressing the violent crime crisis in our state and our effort to re-fund the police and to give them the support and the resources they need to do their jobs more effectively.”
Police departments all across the country have been dealing with staffing shortages for months.
While the Calvert County Sherriff's Office said it has largely avoided any issues with staffing, an officer told WUSA9 on Monday that extra funding from the state could help the department attract new recruits.
"Calvert County is not on par with our counterparts in the southern region like St Mary’s County and Charles County," said Assistant Sheriff Dave McDowell. "To do this job these days, there are a lot of challenges we have and a lot of apprehensions to continue in the profession. When your salary isn’t on par with counterparts that do the same job, it can be frustrating.”
McDowell also said any funding that could help support more tech upgrades and victims' services would bring a great impact locally.
"Technology is very expensive and it evolves," he said. "Any programs that benefit victims or help them recover from whatever trauma they’ve suffered and get back to what should be a normal life for them, I would give that a priority.”
The original plan put forward by Hogan also provided $24 million to create a new Accountability Resources Fund, which could be used to provide more body cams and de-escalation training.
Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis two years ago, "Defund the police" protests have put the spotlight on law enforcement funding around the country.
In response to possible opposition to the governor's plan, Officer McDowell said the funding provided by Maryland could go towards other services that make communities safer.
"It can pay for programs for the mental health and wellness of our first responders and for victims of crimes. It can fund groups where community groups and law enforcement can come together for a common cause," he said. "There’s a lot of really good potential here with this funding.”
Governor Hogan also announced on Monday that he will reintroduce major crime legislation during the next Maryland General Assembly session, which begins on Wednesday.
The legislation includes the Violent Firearms Offender Act, which would toughen penalties for illegal possession or supply of guns, and the Judicial Transparency Act, which would require the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy to track and publish information on sentences handed down by judges for violent crimes.
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