District 7 Delegates: “Crime-Not Time for “Soft on Crime”‘

District 7 Delegates Lauren Arikan, Ryan Nawrocki and Kathy Szeliga write we need to get tough on crime and Dethis is not the time to get ‘soft on crime’.

When you hear Governor Moore, Baltimore County Executive Johnny O, media outlets like The Baltimore Sun, and others say that “crime is down and juvenile crime is down,” do you believe it?

Meanwhile, there are daily reports of shootings in Baltimore City, car thefts, and other crimes that are spilling out into our communities. Minimizing the harmful and even deadly effects of crime in our area is not helping to actually reduce crime.

After speaking with officers of the Maryland State Police, they have confirmed with us that the state has changed the way they report crime. Crime is not being reported for children under ten since they are no longer responsible for criminal misconduct. And those under 13 aren’t reported unless it involves a firearm or a crime of violence.

Furthermore, we know that all our law enforcement agencies are understaffed, so crime is not reported promptly or efficiently simply because there are not enough law enforcement officers.

One of our team members recently attended the Parkville and White Marsh Police Precinct’s monthly community meeting. At the meetings, the officers shared that only 12 new recruits will potentially graduate from the Police Academy in December. They shared the stress of being understaffed and continued to emphasize that when faced with constituents begging them for support. A resident shared about the multiple calls she has placed to the police about juveniles doing and dealing drugs in her neighborhood, including a regular gambling game of craps. The police have not come when she has called, so she attended the meeting to be heard.

Over the last roughly ten years, there has been a push to decriminalize illegal and immoral behavior. There has also been a well-funded effort to elect liberal State’s Attorneys/District Attorneys like Baltimore City’s Marilyn Mosby. Instead of prosecuting criminals on behalf of law-abiding citizens, these prosecutors have declared they will not prosecute crimes like theft, trespassing, prostitution, and drug dealing.

Under Marilyn Mosby’s criminal system, when a prostitute or drug dealer is sitting on your front steps or someone is rooting through your backyard, don’t call the police because that is not a crime anymore. Ignoring low-level crimes encourages more serious crime. Baltimore County’s State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberg takes crime much more seriously, and when criminals get arrested in Baltimore County, they are still fearful of the consequences. However, Annapolis continues to pass ‘soft on crime’ laws, and Baltimore County Police are hundreds of officers short.

The Founding Fathers created a Democratic Republic that leaves as much power and responsibility as possible to state and local control. They called the Laboratories of Democracy. Today, we see Democrat-controlled states and cities continue to pursue their soft-on-crime policies in areas they control. Here is the current state of crime.

● Nine of the top 10 cities with the highest homicide rates are Democrat-run, according to one survey.

● 27 of the top 30 cities with the highest murder rates are Democrat-run, according to The Heritage Foundation.

● In 2022, at least nine cities — seven of which are Democrat-run — saw record homicides.

● In Biden’s first year, at least 12 major U.S. cities — all Democrat-run — set new homicide records.

● Hate crimes surged in “most” major U.S. cities — the majority of which are Democrat-run — in 2022.

● Target and other retailers are closing stores in Democrat-run San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and New York City amid uncontrollable theft.

As we know, juvenile crime is a high concern for Marylanders. Across party lines, diverse constituents argue that Annapolis needs to wake up and help the police do their job – protect the citizens of Maryland and criminalize destructive behavior. See here a research poll released by Gonzales Research and Media Services. It clearly demonstrates the pulse of Marylanders.

From the recent murder of 26-year-old Pava LaPere to a teenager being arrested for the shooting at Morgan
State University, crime has gotten out of control, and no one is immune to it. The heartbreaking and deadly use of guns by teenagers in schools must be addressed.

The police have repeatedly said that they are seeing young people throughout the state carrying firearms regularly, similar to how people used to carry pocketknives. Younger and younger offenders know the crimes they can get away with thanks to the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, to not charge juveniles under 13 with any crimes except murder and 1st-degree rape, and juveniles under ten years old cannot be charged at all.

Another law raising problems is the Child Interrogation Protection Act, which limits child interrogations, requiring an attorney to be consulted when a child is taken into custody and their parents or guardians notified. When a child wants to talk to the police and or a parent consents to their child speaking with police, the public defender prohibits police from interviewing a juvenile who was involved with or witnessed a crime. Police and State’s Attorneys report that solving crime and protecting the public from criminals are greatly hampered by this law.

In a bi-partisan effort, State’s Attorneys from across our state say that the Juvenile Justice Reform Act and the Child Interrogation Protection Act must be repealed or seriously amended. Juveniles who commit crimes are not held accountable, and frequently, their victims are other kids.

In August, Baltimore County Police reported on an 11-year-old who was involved in at least 17 previous car thefts, robberies, and burglaries. Yet, he could not be detained or charged, and his criminal behavior will not addressed in the court system. Children under 13 are simply released to an adult unless they commit a heinous crime like murder or first-degree rape. Even when parents ask for help for their children involved in criminal activities, they cannot get that help. Our system is broken.

If your community is involved in crime prevention, the Baltimore County Police Department is accepting applications for its Community Crime Prevention & Youth Activity Grants Program for the fiscal year 2025. “Citizens on Patrol” groups and other programs aimed at reducing crime in Baltimore County and intervening with at-risk youth are encouraged to apply. Find details and application information here.

B.J. Joseph

Benjamin Joesph has covered news in Eastern Baltimore County since 2006. He started as a reporter with the original East County Times in 2006. He started East Baltco News and later Eastcountytimes.com in 2022.