ANNAPOLIS – Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley said Thursday he welcomes a statewide audit of crime statistics and expressed confidence it would show that the city’s figure are accurate.
O’Malley’s claims to have cut crime significantly in Baltimore have been a key aspect of his gubernatorial campaign, but have been sharply questioned by his opponents and by news reports in the Baltimore media.
“Because we know the men and women of the Baltimore City Police Department have made our city safer and because the information they report is accurate, we support this bill,” O’Malley told members of the House Judiciary Committee, which was hearing testimony on a bill that would require a statewide crime audit by 2009, and every three years thereafter.
Despite O’Malley’s support for the bill, the chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Sen. Brian E. Frosh, D – Montgomery, said it is doubtful the General Assembly will pass the crime statistics audit.
“It’s so late [in the session], I don’t think we have time for it,” Frosh said.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who is running against O’Malley for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, called for the statewide audit last month in a press conference with the bill’s sponsors.
One of those sponsors, Delegate Jill P. Carter, D – Baltimore, testified Thursday immediately before O’Malley and indicated her surprise at the support the crime audit has gathered.
“I’m pleased to see that . . . members of the administration in Baltimore City are here to testify in support of the bill,” Carter said.
In a press release after the hearing, Duncan said he was glad O’Malley was supporting “my plan” for statewide audits.
“While this is a welcome development, questions still remain and need to be addressed immediately concerning the accuracy of Baltimore City’s crime statistics,” the Duncan statement read.
In the press release, Duncan said O’Malley had “actively resisted an audit of Baltimore’s crime statistics” in the past.
O’Malley saw it differently.
“I think we’ve always said that we welcome an independent statewide audit,” O’Malley said in an interview.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. called for crime audits in four jurisdictions, including the areas O’Malley and Duncan oversee. For his part, O’Malley said he thought calls for the crime audit were politically motivated.
Phone calls to the governor’s office were not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.
The controversy over crime statistics stems from a Baltimore Sun story that suggested O’Malley’s estimation of the fall in crime rates was based on an inequitable comparison between audited and unaudited statistics. And, stories on WBAL-TV questioned whether all crimes were being reported by the police.
After these stories, both Ehrlich and Duncan made calls for audits of crime statistics. “Strange that they’ve never asked for [an audit] until it’s an election year,” O’Malley said.