Adding Up Crime
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who earlier this week put a spotlight on Baltimore's crime problems, today joined a group of lawmakers in Annapolis calling for a statewide audit of crime figures.
Del. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore) said legislation mandating an audit is necessary to resolve questions about the accuracy of statistics showing a sharp drop in violent crime under Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Duncan's opponent for governor in the Democratic primary this September.
"We have a lot of reason to call into question the crime data," Carter said at a news conference that was attended by a half-dozen other legislators, a majority of them from the Washington area.
Carter said an audit could take up to a year to conduct, though an aide to Duncan later said he would like to see it could be finished far more quickly.
Baltimore Deputy Mayor Jeanne Hitchcock and Del. Anthony Brown (D-Prince George's), O'Malley's running mate, both waited outside the news conference and spoke to reporters in O'Malley's defense afterward.
Hitchcock said the city is confident in its crime numbers and questioned the timing of the bill introduction. On Monday, Duncan unveiled his crime plan, calling for a statewide audit and calling into question O'Malley's statistics.
"I think the timing of this somewhat speaks to its political intent," Hitchcock said.
Brown said he supports the concept of uniform reporting of crime statistics across the state but said it was too early to say whether he would back the legislation, which he had not seen. Brown also said the timing of the legislation is suspect and questioned Duncan's commitment in past years to reforms in the criminal-justice system.
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