Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan continued to push for his "re-fund the police" proposal on Monday, telling a friendly crowd of police officers: "I will continue to have your back."
As the Republican governor prepares his final budget and last set of legislative proposals, he's pledged to increase police funding by $150 million - a combination of more generous grants to local police departments, increased pay for state law enforcement officers, more resources for crime victims and doubling Metro Crime Stoppers rewards for tips about crimes.
When Hogan first announced his proposal on Friday, he rained down criticism on Baltimore officials and Democratic lawmakers for what he sees as a failure to control violent crime, and he was met with pushback.
On Monday, speaking to a joint conference of police chiefs and sheriffs in Ocean City, Hogan framed his proposal as important support for officers who do dangerous jobs while being vilified by the public. His speech was punctuated by multiple rounds of applause.
Hogan said he wanted the officers to know: "When far too often our law enforcement officers are unfairly criticized and don't get the appreciation and recognition that you deserve, you will continue to have the full support of your governor. I will continue to have your back."
Hogan repeated his concern that the movement toward "defunding" police is dangerous, even though few communities have actually reduced police funding or redirected it to other services. The Baltimore Police Department's budget increased by $28 million this year.
"Thinking that you can improve law enforcement by defunding police is like saying you want to improve education by defunding schools," Hogan said. "It's absurd, it's ridiculous."
The governor also hinted at policy proposals that he said will address the issue of violent crime. He mentioned two bills that have repeatedly failed to win support in the state legislature: one to increase certain mandatory sentences for violent offenders and another to require reporting on judges' sentencing decisions.
The extra money, Hogan said, "is just the start."
"There's a lot more work to be done," he said.