–The following article was submitted by Delegates Ryan Nawrocki & Kathy Szeliga (District 7A) and Lauren Arikan (District 7B) about public safety–
Maintaining public safety is the number one oath for elected officials, and we have repeatedly spoken out regarding the shocking and devastating legislation causing much of this crime-uptick.
It seems that it wasn’t until the mass shooting in Brooklyn on July 2nd that Gov. Wes Moore began to agree with Republicans. During the annual ‘Brooklyn Day’ block party in Baltimore’s Brooklyn Homes community, one shooting may have triggered the sequence of more than a dozen shooters opening fire resulting in 2 deaths and 28 injuries.
As of now, only a 17-year-old boy has been charged, and no other arrests have been made. According to data obtained from Statista Research Department, July’s Baltimore City massacre ranks as the 15th worst mass shooting in the United States since 1982 when comparing number of victims shot.
Shortly thereafter, on July 5th, Wicomico County sustained its first recorded mass shooting that injured six teenagers and resulted in the death of a 14-year-old.
The Wicomico County State’s Attorney, Jamie Dykes, responded to the incident wanting the legislation to pass to make stealing a firearm a felony and said, “I believe subsequent offender penalties with mandatory minimums are more likely to be effective.”
Many other state’s attorneys are joining Dykes and are blaming Maryland’s 2022 Child Interrogation Protection Act and the Juvenile Justice Reform Act for what they believe is keeping law enforcement from holding suspects responsible. Putting partisan politics aside, local state’s attorneys (Both Democrat and Republican) across the state of Maryland are demanding immediate action because of rising juvenile crime, mass shooting frequency, and illegal firearm possession.
Fox45 gathered comments from various authorities on these laws:
● Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said, “The Child Interrogation Protection Act has replaced traditional constitutional protections with legislative fiats that bar police from questioning young offenders, even those charged as adults”
● Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith said, “This comes during a time of increasing youth violence.” “The result of this law [the Child Interrogation Protection Act] passing in Maryland is that if your child is a victim most often the perpetrator is another juvenile and there is a very good chance that the crime will not be fully investigated.”
● Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates said, “When you look at the Juvenile Justice Reform Act that happened in June of 2022, to be honest, I think it’s one of the worst pieces of legislation I have ever read because what it has done is it has taken the process of holding juvenile accountable away from prosecutors.”
● Harford County State’s Attorney Alison Healey said, “The Maryland General Assembly has made it infinitely more difficult to hold juvenile offenders accountable. There is very little accountability for juveniles who commit criminal acts under the new legislation.”
● Carroll County State’s Attorney Haven Shoemaker said, “Juvenile criminal coddling is not the answer.”
While we are encouraged by these statements, we are not surprised to hear that those facing the fallout of soft-on-crime policies are frustrated and demanding change. We and our colleagues in the House Republican caucus have introduced bills to get tough on criminals and improve public safety measures for years.
What we were most surprised to hear was the reaction of Governor Moore after the Brooklyn event. He said that stemming the bloodshed will require more police and tougher sentencing for repeat violent offenders.
This is a dramatic shift from what we have been hearing from liberal Democratic leaders and what we saw take place in Annapolis this past session.
It seems that liberal procriminal Democrats are now seeing the results of their soft-on-crime polices creating younger and younger violent criminals and too many innocent victims.
Recently President Biden signed a GOP-led resolution that blocked D.C.’s proposed overhaul of its criminal code to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and reduce penalties for robbery and burglary. The GOP congressional legislation also provided additional tools for prosecutors and judges to enhance penalties in DC.
Crime is so bad in Washington DC that Democratic D.C. Mayor led the charge to pass an emergency crime bill that created new penalties for firing a gun in public and making it easier to detain people awaiting trial. We hope this is signaling a change in the tide and that Republicans and Democrats can come together to address the crime crisis in Maryland.
Delegates Szeliga and Arikan introduced legislation to address this crisis this past session. However, both HB698 (Juvenile Court Jurisdiction – Age of Child) and HB937 (Attempted Second-Degree Murder – Penalty) never made it out of committee. As we look forward to 2024, we ask the Marylanders to continue to support measures that will get tough on criminals and bring peace to our communities.