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OPINION: Annapolis, A Modern Day Dodge City

| July 07, 2021, 08:40 AM

Michelle Cummings, the mother who was visiting Annapolis to watch her son be inducted into the Naval Academy, was murdered not 400 feet from my house and just a few blocks from Mayor Buckley’s. Yet he says Annapolis is safe. I believe the family of Mrs. Cummings would beg to differ. I don’t know about Buckley but this week marks the first time since moving here I have thought twice before walking downtown.  This is not just because of the murder but also the beating of a woman in front of a Main Street bar by a group of at least 7 people – all caught on video.

Watching that I kept wondering where are the police Buckley adamantly claims are well funded?  Just last week there were 30 shots fired in Eastport.

The only reason we don’t have more murders is because of bad aim. That is the reason that Ms. Cummings lost her life when she was at her hotel. The bullets that hit her were from a gunfight across the street.  We need law and order in this city, now!

Mayor Buckley needs to lay out a plan and his vision on how he is going to address the rising and unacceptable level of crime. The tragedy of  Cummings’ senseless death will not be forgotten. The reality is this is not an isolated incident as Buckley claims,  it was the third homicide this year. Dodge City, that lawless town of western lore, averaged three homicides per year in its heyday, and we’ve equaled that in half that time.

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According to Ward 8  Democratic Alderman Ross Arnett, shared at his town hall last week,  we only have 98 sworn officers. The city has a budget for 124 so why aren’t we hiring them?  It sure looks like a neat and tidy way to secretly defund the police. They realize in an election year they cannot politically cut the police budget until after the election so they fund the positions but just don’t hire them. Or even worse, like a slush fund, they don’t fill vacancies to use the money for non-law-enforcement objectives. This too is unacceptable.

I don’t know about Buckley but this week marks the first time since moving here I have thought twice before walking downtown. Click To Tweet

Alderman Arnett mentioned that the Eastport police substation will not always be staffed with officers because they don’t have enough; instead, it will be filled with community groups. You read that right: the Eastport police substation does not have enough police!

Here are the steps the city needs to take:

  1. Immediately hire new officers.  If that means increased pay or benefits, the city should use all that money they are getting from their tax increases and the federal government.
  2. The mayor must call the county executive and the governor and ask for help. We don’t need another study, we need people to come in and help.
  3. The mayor must ask the ATF to dedicate a team to come in. Increasing the reward will not fix the problem; they need to send in a team and layout a plan for the city to adopt.
  4. The city must install more cameras, which have proven to help solve crimes.

We don’t blame the mayor for Mrs. Cummings death but we must hold him accountable if he does not lay out a plan.  Buckley talks the talk – it’s his walk that is suspect.

–Steven Strawn, Annapolis Republican Central Committee Chairman

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