US reps discuss Baltimore’s violent crime with city leaders

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland’s congressional delegation met with Baltimore’s leadership on Monday to discuss ways of reducing violent crime in the city, one of just over a dozen U.S. localities targeted by a White House plan aimed at curbing gun violence.

So far this year, Baltimore is on track to record more than 300 annual homicides for the seventh year in a row. Maryland’s biggest city has made scant progress stemming high rates of bloodshed that began in a 2015 surge and hasn’t abated.

At City Hall, Sen. Ben Cardin said there are no simple answers, though he added the “violent crime issue in Baltimore needs to change.” The Democrat said the federal delegation will work in partnership with Baltimore’s leaders to focus on the myriad problems fueling Baltimore’s chronic violence. Few specifics were announced following the meeting.

Late last month, President Joe Biden announced new efforts to stem a rising tide of violent crime. That plan focuses on providing money to cities that need more police, offering community support and most of all cracking down on gun violence and those supplying illegal firearms. Some aspect of the new strategy boil down mostly to suggestions for beleaguered localities, such as encouraging cities to invest some of their COVID-19 relief funds into policing.

Mayor Brandon Scott said, among other things, that he’s eager to see an increased presence in Baltimore of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The mayor also espouses more support and resources for tackling mental and behavioral health issues. But he also stressed that the city’s police department will be aggressive in ensuring violent criminals are brought to justice.

“The most important thing we’re going to do is we’re going to go and hunt those people down who are shooting our babies,” said Scott, in response to a question about young people who have recently fallen victim to gun violence.

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