Board OKs use of $5.4 million grant for targeting of repeat offenders

November 19, 1998|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

To step up Baltimore's battle against crime, the city's Board of Estimates approved the use of a $5.4 million federal grant yesterday to help police and prosecutors target repeat offenders.

The crime prevention program, sponsored by the Mayor's Coordinating Council on Criminal Justice, will receive $604,541 from the city.

The federal and local money comes as the Glendening administration promises more funds for the city's "hot spots," according to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

In particular, the city and state plan to target Baltimore's northeast section, in areas around York and Harford roads, he said.

Schmoke said New York's success in fighting crime -- serious crime was down 9.8 percent for the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year -- has put pressure on other cities, in particular Baltimore, where homicides have exceeded 300 a year for nearly a decade.

"The biggest problem for us is with such a huge drop in New York, that has really raised the bar," Schmoke said.

One driving force for crime in Baltimore is the drug trade, Schmoke said, adding that the state's attorney's office reported to him this week that 73 percent of all felony cases are drug-related.

"We certainly want to stop things before they get any hotter," said City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, Board of Estimates chairman.

Part of the $5.4 million in federal money, which was awarded Oct. 1 through the U.S. Department of Justice's local law enforcement block grants, will pay for community liaisons from the state's attorney's office to help with crime prevention.

About $2 million will assist in funding a program to help Baltimore's communities combat street-level drug markets.

Other projects include computer training, evidence control programs and new law enforcement technology for police. Nearly $500,000 will target youth handgun violence.

With the board's approval of the spending, several programs are expected to begin this winter and next spring. The grant money remains available through Sept. 30, 2000.

Pub Date: 11/19/98

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