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March 11, 2024

Wicomico County, MD-Maryland is renowned for its vibrant communities, picturesque landscapes, and proud heritage. Yet, behind the state's idyllic façade, a growing concern for public safety has captured the attention of local leaders and citizens alike. 

In an unequivocal response to this pressing issue, three Republican County Executives in Maryland have united to advocate for the passage of the 2024 Public Safety Agenda. County Executives Bob Cassilly of Harford County, Danielle Hornberger of Cecil County, and Wicomico County's very own Julie Giordano have shown their support and have aligned with the Maryland Senate and House Republicans, presenting a multi-faceted legislative agenda that aims to fortify law enforcement, penalize offenders, and halt the escalation of violent juvenile crimes. 

Realizing that fragmented solutions yield minimal results, these county executives stand unified, calling for implementing five pivotal legislative proposals. These five legislative proposals seem to be common sense to a normal citizen, but unfortunately, in society today, common sense doesn't seem to fit into most politicians' mindsets.  

Julie Giordano recently said "Public safety is a top concern of many of our citizens. That is why I choose to stand with the other leaders across the state in passing this public safety legislation. These bills will give security and safety to our law abiding citizens,  no longer enabling violent criminals and repeat offenders which threatens the very fabric of a law and order society. We work hand in hand with law enforcement every day to ensure a safer county. It's time for our legislators to work towards a safer Maryland".

The 2024 Public Safety Agenda features comprehensive initiatives targeting a specific area within the public safety framework. From escalating penalties for firearm offenses to restoring the juvenile justice system, these proposals underscore the need for a cohesive yet stringent approach to nurturing safer communities. In a society that has seen crime growth across the board, the community and its citizens deserve to be safe, and these proposals will assist with that aspect.  

Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2024

Senators Watson, Carozza, and Muse have endorsed the Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2024. The act seeks to balance firearm-related offenses and proposes several pragmatic measures that could foster deterrence and enhance safety.  

The Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2024 enhances the penalties for gun use in Violent Crimes by augmenting the severity of penalties associated with the use of firearms in violent acts.  This act aims to discourage such conduct and infuse a new level of accountability into the legal system.

Closing the drug dealer loophole is essential and part of this bill.  The Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2024 aims to enforce stricter penalties for individuals who knowingly supply firearms to those likely to employ them in criminal endeavors, thereby eliminating a significant exploitable gap in enforcement.

Bearing in mind the importance of rehabilitation, the Violent Firearms Offenders Act of 2024 mandates the provision of reintegration kits and Medicaid assistance for eligible inmates reentering Society.  Such support is pivotal in facilitating successful re-entry and reducing recidivism rates.

Gun Theft Felony Act of 2024

The Gun Theft Felony Act presents a clear and formidable stance against the theft of firearms, equating the act with the seriousness it deserves. By distinguishing firearm theft as a separate, indisputably heinous offense, this legislation aims to 

The Gun Theft Felony Act categorizes firearm theft as a distinct felony, separating it from the broader context of theft under the law and underscoring the gravity and public safety risk associated with such crimes.

This act also introduces consequential penalties to individuals found guilty of firearm theft.  These offenders will face escalated penalties, including prison sentences of up to 10 years for subsequent convictions. The Act also mandates consecutive sentencing to ensure that the seriousness of the crime is appropriately reflected in the punishment.

For first offenders, felony convictions would result, with penalties reaching up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $1,000. However, for individuals experiencing a second or subsequent conviction, the severity of penalties escalates to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and/or a $2,500 fine.

Additionally, the legislation emphasizes the need for separate sentencing. In this regard, any sentence affiliated with firearm theft would be separate and consecutive to other offenses the individual may have been convicted of.

Safe Communities Act of 2024

The Safe Communities Act of 2024 is the collaborative brainchild of Senators Folden, Bailey, Carozza, Corderman, Gallion, Hershey, Jennings, Mautz, McKay, Ready, Salling, Simonaire, and West, with the primary aim of rectifying specific areas of incarceration and sentencing.

At the heart of this Act is the Diminution Credits for Murder Convicts clause. This clause seeks to prevent individuals sentenced for first-degree or second-degree murder at state or local correctional facilities from earning diminution credits to shorten their confinement period.

The Limit on Diminution Credits for Crimes of Violence feature has been added. This feature restricts individuals serving sentences for violent crimes from deducting more than 10% of their total sentence via diminution credits.

Drug-Free Roadways Act of 2024

In the wake of rising crime rates and safety concerns, Maryland's Senators Folden, Bailey, Carozza, Hershey, Mautz, McKay, Ready, Salling, Simonaire, and West have sponsored a powerful legislative proposal known as the Drug-Free Roadways Act of 2024. This act promises to restructure how law enforcement handles vehicle stops and searches, particularly concerning cannabis.

Originally, the House of Delegates had, in the final hours of the 2023 General Assembly session, hurriedly approved a bill that banned law enforcement from stopping and searching vehicles on the sole basis of cannabis odor. But the consequences of this prohibition were far-flung, touching not just the security of motorists but also impeding the fight against illegal firearms. 

Now, with crime levels escalating across the state, the Drug-Free Roadways Act of 2024 proposes to redress this issue and restore a critical avenue for the police to seize illegal firearms.

The Drug-Free Roadways Act of 2024 creates distinct motor vehicle stop and search protocols. The Act differentiates between motor vehicles and individuals or vessels for stop and search procedures. 

The bill specifically revokes the laws that disallowed vehicle stops or searches solely based on cannabis odor. Moreover, previously inadmissible evidence due to these laws will now be admissible.

This Act is a comprehensive attempt to strike a balance between public safety and individual rights, particularly in cannabis-related cases. 

Juvenile Justice Restoration Act

The dreadful rise in violent juvenile crime has been a grave concern for many communities, and the Juvenile Justice Restoration Act seeks to address this pressing issue. Restoring the juvenile justice system's efficacy is the focal point, emphasizing rehabilitation and deterrence.

Recent juvenile justice laws have made securing suitable consequences for juvenile offenders increasingly difficult. In addition, these laws complicate linking these offenders with services necessary to prevent reoffending. The Juvenile Justice Restoration Act aims to rectify these issues.

Notably, juvenile carjackings have surged by 85% and handgun violations have escalated by 220% statewide between 2021 and 2023. Some regions, like Montgomery County, have experienced a whopping 95% hike in juvenile-related violent crime since 2019.

Public outcry, law enforcement officers, and State Attorneys have all voiced their concerns about the juvenile crime crisis in Maryland. The Act proposes amending the 2023 law that mandates the presence of an attorney during a juvenile's questioning, even if parents have consented. The bill would allow parental consent to replace the need for a lawyer's consultation. 

A reinvigorated reintegration philosophy forms the core of the Act, ensuring that juvenile offenders have the necessary support to lead law-abiding lives post-intervention programs.

These steps will potentially countermand the frequent 'catch and release' of juveniles nabbed for repeatedly committing nonviolent crimes, like car theft.

Make Maryland a Safery Place For Everyone!

Julie Giordano, the County Executive of Wicomico, supports the 2024 Public Safety Agenda. Her commitment to public safety and community well-being is evident in her wholehearted endorsement of these reformative acts. 

Through her active participation and advocacy, she echoes the narrative that cooperation and collaboration are pivotal in shaping progressive reforms that stand the test of time. Her proactive involvement in the political discourse surrounding these acts underscores her leadership and vision for a prosperous and secure Wicomico.

The 2024 Public Safety Agenda marks a significant milestone in Maryland's commitment to safer communities. With County Executives Julie Giordano, Bob Cassilly, and Danielle Hornberger expressing support, these reformative acts carry with them a promise of change. 

However, the road to implementation is fraught with challenges that require bipartisan support, public engagement, and a concerted effort by all stakeholders. The time is ripe for a united approach transcending political lines in pursuing a common goal-safeguarding our future. 

By standing together, shoulder to shoulder, the broader Maryland community can pave the way for a safer, more secure tomorrow for everyone! The 2024 Public Safety Agenda beckons not just for passing legislation but also for active participation in its execution, fostering an environment where each community member plays an integral part in the safety and prosperity of the collective whole.

Eastern Shore Undercover encourages ALL Marylanders to voice their opinions to their local legislators! Reach out to them and let them know you want a safer community and support the 2024 Public Safety Agenda!