Baltimore Press

O’Malley Pamphlet Details Plan for ‘Restoring Public Safety’

Ten hours before NAACP he’s also done his homework, to New York City. He has stud- President/CEO Kweisi Mfume The debut chapter of ied how changes in arrived at Martin O’Malley’s Wednesday night fund-raiser at an Irish pub on Charles Street, the city councilman and mayoral hopeful O’Malley was dis­tributing books in front of the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse.

In delivering the 40-page pamphlets to reporters, O’Malley challenged the press to “parse it word by word.” It was the first chapter of O’Malley’s “Blueprint For Baltimore’s Future.” The step from being the “zero-tolerance” mayoral candidate to author was not a long one as the pam­phlet embraced public safety and policing as its central theme.

The document is thick in detail. If O’Malley ends up in the mayor’s office, he has left himself little wiggle room. But, O’Malley’s plan frequently references his fact-finding mission to New York City. He has studied how changes in big, troubled metropolitan areas have improved those cities. He refers to dramatic turnarounds in Boston, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Chicago. Each of those major markets reduced its homicide rates tremen­dously by implementing programs similar to the one he proposed to res­cue Baltimore from its former image as “murder capital of the world,” and “syphyllus capital of the world.”

He is the only candidate to issue such an explicitly detailed policy statement, complete with specific examples from other cities.

Baltimore’s drug problem is the underlying theme of the pamphlet, and giving the court system the power to use drug rehabilitation facil­ities, as an alternative to jail, is key to his plan.
O’Malley called for a five-point plan to reduce crime. The points are:
• Streamlining the booking and charging process. O’Malley says the transfer of the booking of criminals to the State’s Attorney’s office will allow quicker dismissal of “nuisance” cases and allow police to return to the street soon after an arrest.
• Expanding citation authority. Currently, city police have limited authority to charge minor offenses with “must appear” citations, similar to speeding tickets. The police depart­ment and courts discourage use of this system, only implimenting it in four districts. O’Malley would ask the Maryland General Assembly to broaden the number of crimes that can be cited with tickets and he would expand the program citywide.
• Creation of an arraignment court at the central booking facility. According to O’Malley, the city has been “paying felony prices for misde­meanorjustice.”

The Circuit Court alone, he says, is requesting 5,000 of the 8,000 rehab slots available to the city. Wednesday morning, O’Malley said that he would maintain the current funding for drug rehabilitation. When ques­tioned how mandatory drug rehab (in a town with an estimated 60,000 addicts, by some accounts) could be funded, he pointed toward Annapolis.

Another tenent of his plan would be to streamline the judicial process for nonviolent criminals and to focus prosecutorial might on repeat offend­ers. He noted that Baltimore’s judicia­ry has resisted change, and that it was rightfully shielded from political whims.
Once the judiciary is reorganized, he would seek to eliminate outdoor drug markets from comers of Baltimore’s streets.

Open-air drug markets are statisti­cally linked to more murders and vio­lent crimes than their indoor brethren, O’Malley contends.

With the turmoil within the police department, which has been tainted with corruption and ineffectiveness, O’Malley said it “was a fair asser­tion” that he would replace current Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier with an African American. He said he had several individuals in the depart­ment in mind.

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