Gov. William Donald Schaefer called today for new strategies for law enforcement in the community as he opened the Governor's Summit on Violent Crime at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The governor's opening remarks came as about 700 law enforcement officials and business and community leaders gathered to address the mounting crime problem in the city and throughout Maryland.
Mr. Schaefer said the crime problem cannot be solved simply by "throwing money at it." Rather, he said, issues such as the disintegration of the family and education and welfare reform must be addressed.
"I don't expect a miracle," he said, but if citizens were to view crime problems differently he would consider the summit a success.
"If we leave here saying everything is OK, and we're going to do everything the same, then we've wasted our time," Mr. Schaefer said.
Bishop L. Robinson, secretary of public safety and correctional services, pointed to a 23 percent increase in adult arrests since 1987.
Secretary Robinson added that more than 150,000 are either incarcerated or under correctional supervision in Maryland. "So it is very clear that we must preserve our very limited space for a very long time to incarcerate violent crime offenders, drug traffickers and repeat offenders," he said.
FBI Director William Sessions told the gathering his agency and federal prosecutors are offering local law enforcement officials their resources in targeting organized criminal activity. He proposed using federal statutes -- such as the Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act used to prosecute organized crime -- to pursue drug dealers and violent criminals in the sameway federal authorities have pursued the Mafia.
"You can attack these groups as a business," Mr. Sessions said.
Criminals convicted under federal law receive and must fully serve mandatory sentences, which would act as a further deterrent to violent offenders, Mr. Sessions said.
A new University of Maryland survey examining state residents' attitudes toward crime showed that 30 percent of those responding said they had been crime victims in the past year. Seven percent said they had been victims of violent crime.
Those figures, released today, are higher than the national average, in which 24 percent of people polled said they were crime victims, 5 percent of that violent crime.
But the high percentage of crime victims did not translate into a willingness to be taxed more for prison construction. Asked if they would be willing to pay $100 more in taxes to build more prisons, 43 percent said yes, but 57 percent said no.
U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr was scheduled to speak this afternoon.
During the meeting, Mr. Schaefer is expected to describe plans for a drug strike force that will be coordinated by state police investigators to intercept and dismantle organized drug trafficking in the state.
The strike force will target drug dealers from out of state, particularly New York, who are trying to establish themselves in Baltimore and other parts of the state.