By AFRO Staff
Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott delivered the annual State of the City address on April 5.
The 52nd mayor of Charm City said that he “remained committed to seeing Baltimore reach its full potential” and detailed initiatives that he believes will positively impact residents of the city.
Scott spoke of prioritizing youth, responsible stewardship, the pandemic, equitable neighborhood development and public safety.
“We cannot ignore the fact that our city is still plagued with gun violence, as it has been for decades. Last year, we lost 338 lives to violence,” said Scott, to those gathered inside the Baltimore City Council chamber. “Children like Maliyah Turner, mothers and grandmothers like Evelyn Player and too many more who will never spend time with their families or reach their full potential. Unfortunately, this year has started off in the same way and it is clear that the effects of violence impact everyone in every neighborhood in our city.”
Scott said that even though trends on violent crime were not unique to Baltimore, “we cannot accept it as ok or normal and we are not and will not be deterred in our efforts to disrupt it.”
“This year, 363 gun arrests were made and 573 illegal guns were recovered, including 142 guns used in violent crimes and 113 ghost guns. In collaboration with law enforcement partners, the Warrant Apprehension Task Force has served 810 warrants – year-to-date – for violent crimes including murder, attempted murder, rape, carjackings and armed robbery,” said Scott. “Our homicide clearance rate is over 50 percent, which is up almost 13 percent from last year. I want to commend the BPD for serving our residents and making Baltimore a safer place to live every day.”
Scott spoke about the need to “modernize policing and transform BPD into a world-class law enforcement agency.”
He also disclosed that “our patrol officers spend half of their time focused on non-emergency calls where there is no one in danger. In the coming weeks we will be unveiling our Smart Policing program – emphasizing innovative policing by having officers focused on what and where our residents need them to be. By implementing a SMART policing strategy, we can free up valuable time spent by our officers on these non-emergency calls so they can be more proactive and have more visibility patrolling our communities and making them safe.”
Noting that a safe Baltimore can only be achieved with the buy-in of everyone involved.
“In the coming weeks, I will outline my vision for a Community Violence Intervention (CVI) Ecosystem for Baltimore – and expanding the capacity of Safe Streets is just a key piece of this CVI Ecosystem,” said Scott. “It’s also about caring for victims with services like intensive life-coaching, hospital violence intervention, school-based response and other wraparound support.”
Scott addressed youth initiatives like the YouthWorks program and investments into upgrading the parks and recreation facilities in the City. Abandoned properties, water bills and housing concerns were also addressed.
“Last month, I announced $100 million in funding to kick start our equitable housing strategy,” said Scott. “Residents in Park Heights, CHM, Uplands, O’Donnell Heights, and Perkins, Somerset and Oldtown in East Baltimore will see activity after decades of waiting.”
In addition to addressing violence and housing, Scott spoke about those who have protected and served the city with valor.
Scott asked for a moment of silence for the first responders and public safety workers that have paid with their lives in service to the city. Officer Keona Holley, Lieutenant Paul Butrim, Lieutenant Kelsey Sadler and Firefighter/EMT Kenny Lacayo were all recognized. The mayor also included Safe Streets workers Dante Barksdale, Kenyell Wilson, and Da’Shawn McGrier as he honored those who he said made“ the ultimate sacrifice in selflessly serving their city.”
Scott also praised Baltimore City Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. Letitia Dzirasa who,
“Has been a guiding light in helping us navigate this deadly pandemic,” Mayor Scott said. “Sadly, we’ve lost 1,728 Baltimoreans to this deadly virus – 328 this year alone – but while I may receive the credit for making the tough decisions I know we would have lost thousands more if we didn’t have Dr. D’s leadership, expertise, guidance and foresight, as we took science based actions to protect our residents. Dr. D thank you for a job well done.”
As he spoke about the pandemic, Scott reminded residents that this pandemic is not over. That there will be other variants and other surges, and this will not be the last pandemic that Baltimore faces.
During the 45 minutes that he addressed the City, Scott detailed his strategy of using the $641 million allocated from the American Rescue Plan. Stating that an $80 million investment into healthcare and resources was crucial in “setting Baltimore up to ensure we are prepared for the next surge and the next pandemic while also strengthening Baltimore’s healthcare ecosystem.”
Scott added that the investment helped the City “provide tens of thousands of COVID tests; dedicated testing staff; funding to develop telehealth infrastructure for Baltimore health care clinics; and the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
He praised everyone at the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), led by Chief Wallace, which was “fully activated for an unprecedented 738 consecutive days.”
The mayor noted that “home health care professionals haven’t been acknowledged on the same scale as other essential workers,” and that he is still in partnership with “SEIU 1199 to fund $2M in compensation to give these workers the appreciation and recognition they deserve.”
Aside from public safety and health, Scott also spoke about those who had doubts about the CIAA games being held in the city and “luring their tournament away from Charlotte to Baltimore.”
“Well, Baltimore, I am pleased to report that your city showed up and showed out for the 2022 CIAA Tournament,” he said, adding that “66,000 fans attended the tournament with the championship games drawing over 13,000 spectators to Royal Farms Arena, surpassing 2019’s championship day in Charlotte by nearly 4,000 people.”
“The tournament resulted in an estimated $3.2 million to hotels in the area,” which Scott reported was “the highest hotel revenue for the last weekend in February since 2015.”
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