Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh named a new director of criminal justice and released an updated plan she said will stem Baltimore’s persistent violence. As the city suffers a record homicide rate, Pugh said the plan is an “enhancement” of the strategy she campaigned on last year, reports the Baltimore Sun. Pugh laid out several steps her administration has taken to bolster policing, including putting more officers on patrol and improving police training and technology. “This is urgent,” she said. “I can’t say it any louder.” The mayor called for a holistic approach to fighting crime, to include engaging youth, promoting community health and growing jobs.
City Councilman Brandon Scott, a critic of the mayor, cheered the plan’s release. Scott, who chairs the council’s public safety committee, said he was “expecting and hoping for more.” “There is still a need for us to have a more in-depth plan with accountability and goals and measurable targets,” he said. Pugh announced that Drew Vetter, chief of staff of the Baltimore Police Department, would lead her criminal justice staff. “Violence impacts everybody,” Vetter said. “It doesn’t matter what the nature of the circumstances are, every murder in the city is tragic. I think we can all agree that the level of violence in the city should not continue.” Scott praised the choice but said, “It is a far cry from what the council was told on June 2, that a national search was being done and the position would be filled in a month.”