Officials tout $4.6M in public safety grants coming to Baltimore area
Brandon Weigel, Baltimore Fishbowl
Local elected officials gathered today to tout a $4.6 million package of federal grant funding for public safety initiatives in Baltimore and Baltimore County, saying the money will help improve community policing, tackle problems like gun violence and the opioid epidemic, and create a more fair justice system.
U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Reps. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt all heralded the package as a sign that local leaders are thinking regionally about public safety–and that the area’s representatives in Congress can still bring home the bacon.
In November, both the city and county received nearly half a million dollars for crime labs to test DNA evidence, part a $3.2 million round of funding.
“We work every day to make Baltimore safer than it was the day before,” Young said at a press conference. “The grants we’ve been awarded with the support of our federal delegation provide invaluable resources to achieve that goal.”
Among the grants announced today are: $396,922 for a pilot program through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Baltimore to promote safe communities; $750,000 for prosecuting gun crimes with the help of resources from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; $687,749 to support young people whose loved ones are battling opioid addiction; and $277,762 to help victims of crimes in Baltimore County.
Cardin said the collaboration between leadership in the city and county helped the federal delegation make its case to the Department of Justice, which awarded the grants. Such funds became highly contested after Congressional earmarks were banned in 2011, he said.
“The leadership in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, in a very competitive environment, were able to get these grants,” he said. “Yes, we’re proud that we supported it and helped to make it a reality. But the credit belongs with our local officials for showing the confidence that these federal partnerships would be used in a way that would benefit the people of our region.”