MD’s Gov Moore wants hiring of police officers, victim’s compensation to play key role in ’24 legislative session

10 January 2024- Maryland Governor Wes Moore held a relatively star-studded event to roll out what he calls his “Public Safety Agenda and Legislative Action” for the 2024 Legislative Session in the state.

The first official day of the session is TODAY, January 10th. A part time legislature, the branch is only in session for 90 days, concluding in Sine Die, or the final day of adjournment, on April 8th. This clears the way for primary elections on May 14th.

The governor had in attendance at the Tuesday event members of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, multiple cabinet secretaries, and the President of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police among many other dignitaries. In the event, Moore focused directly on public safety goals in the short session.

The Moore-Miller Administration’s 2024 public safety legislative agenda includes three bills: 

The Victim’s Compensation Reform Act will modernize Maryland’s victims compensation reform program to make sure that victims of crime receive the support they need to recover. This proposal makes the process more efficient, removes unnecessary barriers to receiving compensation, and allows for rapid awards for immediate needs like funeral or emergency relocation expenses. Victim compensation is proven to both help families in their recovery from crimes and to prevent future crimes, and strong victim compensation systems can increase the likelihood that victims of crime will be willing to testify against perpetrators of crime. 

The Growing Apprenticeships in Public Safety (GAPS) Act is focused on making sure that Maryland is training and supporting highly-qualified law enforcement professionals to protect our communities. The bill proposes both short and long term actions to help address the hiring and retention challenges that law enforcement and public safety agencies face across the state. The bill leverages existing resources and models to expand the use of registered apprenticeship as a pathway to law enforcement jobs. It also requires the establishment of a model policy for law enforcement officer wellness programs to ensure that police officers receive the support they need in their often challenging work. The bill also establishes a commission to do a deep dive into policies that can help recruit, train, and retain the next generation of law enforcement officers.

The Center for Firearm Violence Prevention and Intervention will be created within the Department of Health to consolidate and better coordinate the state’s public health approach to preventing gun violence. This new office will serve as a partner to local governments, advocates, and medical professionals engaged in the work of hospital- and community-based violence intervention programs. Maryland would become the first state to establish a state office of gun violence prevention, which was a key recommendation of the President Biden-Vice President Harris White House Safer States Agenda – which outlined actions states should take to reduce gun violence and save lives.

“The GAPS Act will provide much-needed assistance to public safety agencies that administer a Cadet program,” said Maryland Fraternal Order of Police President Clyde Boatwright. “Statewide mental health and wellness policies are essential for establishing uniform standards for agencies to follow. Peer support, stress management, and other wellness programs are national best practices in our profession.”

During his remarks, Governor Moore outlined the administration’s vision for juvenile justice focused on prevention, targeted interventions for the most at-risk youth, and accountability—including accountability from young people who commit crimes, state government, and the community. Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Vincent Schiraldi also provided an update about the progress that the department has made in transforming operations, in addition to announcing the expansion of The Thrive Academy, which is an intensive program that helps youth who are most at risk to be perpetrators and victims of gun violence.