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Keyword: olszewski

Bill Protects Firearm Retail Establishment and Prevents Gun Burglaries

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Police Chief Melissa Hyatt, and other County officials today announced plans to introduce the Secure All Firearms Effectively (SAFE) Act, which would require firearm retail establishments in Baltimore County to install responsible security measures to protect their inventory from potential burglaries.

“We must do whatever we can to keep our communities safe, and that includes doing more to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals,” said County Executive Olszewski. “This bill is a straightforward solution to ensure that we keep stolen weapons off our streets and out of our communities.”

Firearm retail safety is an issue across Maryland and nationwide. Seven Baltimore County firearm retail establishments were burglarized 10 times in 2018 and 2019. In four of those incidents, burglars succeeded in stealing firearms, including one incident in which 51 weapons were stolen.

In June 2019, burglars attacked firearm retail establishments in Howard County and Montgomery County on successive nights, ramming each retailer with a car and stealing a total of 45 weapons. A suspect charged in those cases was also involved in one of Baltimore County’s attempted burglaries.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a total of 5,652 firearms were stolen nationwide in burglaries from dealers in 2018. Weapons stolen from these burglaries are often sold and used to commit additional crimes.

“This bill will require appropriate security measures for firearm retail establishments and gun shows in Baltimore County,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt. “The goal of this licensing is to avoid more preventable incidents in which multiple weapons are stolen, and then end up in the hands of violent criminals.” 

Many firearm retail establishments do not secure firearms in safes, vaults, shatterproof cases, or take other anti-theft measures after normal business hours, leaving retailers vulnerable to burglary. While some retailers utilize limited security measures, such as window bars, implementation is often not comprehensive, consistent, or effective.

Maryland law authorizes local jurisdictions to regulate the purchase, sale, transfer, ownership, possession, and transportation of firearms within 100 yards of or in a park, church, school, public building, and other place of public assembly. "Place of public assembly” means a location used for a gathering of 50 or more persons for deliberation, worship, entertainment, eating, drinking, amusement, shopping, awaiting transportation or similar uses.

The bill announced today would create a new county license for firearm retail establishments and temporary gun shows that fall under the county’s regulatory authority. In order to obtain a license, establishments and gun shows would have to implement a Baltimore County Police Department-approved safety plan.

Under the plan, a temporary gun show must have a security plan approved by the Chief of Police that includes an alarm system, video surveillance and live security guard coverage when the show is closed and establishments must:

  • Be monitored at all times by an alarm system registered with the county and a video system.
  • Include the following physical security elements:
    • Bollards or another physical barrier to prevent vehicle intrusion into the building; and
    • Security gates or security screens over windows; and
    • Either security gates or security screens over doors; or a secure vestibule for doors.
  • Secure all firearms in a safe, secure room, in a secured cage, or behind security shutters when the business is closed.
    • As an alternative to this requirement, the Chief of Police may authorize the dealer to provide live security guard coverage.
  • The Chief of Police can approve another combination of measures.

The legislation was developed in consultation with law enforcement officials and Baltimore County firearm retail establishment owners, and is based on more stringent state safety requirements for medical cannabis facilities.

The bill will be introduced in the County Council session scheduled for Monday, December 16.


Funding Requested to Support New Buses, Infrastructure for Towson Circulator Pilot

Baltimore County has won a federal grant award to support the launch of a Towson Circulator pilot. The $1.65 million award, announced today by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes, was requested by County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s administration as it seeks to create innovative transportation options for Baltimore County residents.
 
“The Towson Circulator will be a critical project that will better connect residents between where they live, work, study, and play,” said County Executive Olszewski. “We commend our Congressional delegation on supporting our request for this critical funding to move forward with this first-of-its-kind integrated transportation project in Baltimore County.”

In his Fiscal Year 2020 Budget, Olszewski included funds to begin planning a Towson Circulator pilot, with plans to expand to other communities. In addition, the administration has named the first ever transportation planner and is in the process of hiring a deputy in the Department of Public Works to oversee transportation efforts and strategy.

“We are excited to announce this federal investment to help kick-start the Towson Circulator, which will provide a new, much-needed transit option to downtown Towson and the surrounding community. Maintaining a safe, reliable and convenient public transit system is critical to Baltimore County and we will continue working to expand and modernize transportation systems throughout Maryland,” the federal lawmakers said.   

Today’s award, announced as part of a nearly $14 million federal, statewide investment announced from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program, will support the purchase of new buses and infrastructure for the Towson Circulator.

"With little room for new roads, a Circulator is essential to improving mobility in Downtown Towson,” said Councilman David Marks. “I thank County Executive Olszewski and our federal partners for their support of this initiative."

More details on the Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program may be found on the Federal Transit Administration's website.


Workgroup to Ensure Youth Voices Included in Efforts to Combat Climate Change

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today announced the formation of the Baltimore County Youth Climate Working Group to better engage young people in the County’s ongoing efforts to adopt sustainable practices and policies to combat climate change.

The first-of-its-kind workgroup will convene high school students from around Baltimore County to ensure youth voices, concerns, and recommendations are included in the County’s Climate Action Plan and other sustainability efforts.

Consequences of Climate Change in Baltimore County

“We are already seeing the consequences of climate change in Baltimore County, and they will only grow more severe in the years ahead unless we take action now,” said County Executive Olszewski. “Youth voices are among the most important in the global fight for our planet because they will be the most impacted by our actions. We need their vision and passion to build a cleaner, greener and more sustainable Baltimore County.” 

Earlier this year, students in Baltimore County and across the world participated in the Global Climate Strike to demand action be taken to address climate change. By engaging them through this working group, students’ impassioned call for progress can help lead to tangible solutions at the local level.

Student Opportunities

Students will have opportunities to meet with the County Executive, Chief Sustainability Officer, and other members of the administration to share their perspectives on climate change, discuss how it impacts their communities, and to develop potential solutions. Recommendations and feedback from the Youth Climate Working Group will be incorporated in the County’s final Climate Action Plan.

This is the latest effort from the Administration to promote environmental sustainability and enhance community input into government.

In August, County Executive Olszewski named former Delegate Steve Lafferty as Baltimore County’s first Chief Sustainability Officer. Lafferty is tasked with leading the county’s efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change and to promote countywide sustainability initiatives. The Sustainability Officer will lead the development of county-wide Climate Action Plan, covering topics such as reduced energy consumption, promotion of green infrastructure, and sustainable growth policy.

Bringing Students and Young People Into the Processes

“We are thrilled to provide young people with this opportunity to share their opinions and ideas about the impact of climate change,” Lafferty said. “By bringing students and young people into the processes, we can make sure they are part of the solution today while inspiring the leaders of tomorrow to carry on the fight for a cleaner, greener future.”

Baltimore County partnered with schools across the county to recruit 20 students to participate in the Working Group.

The Youth Climate Working Group will hold its first meeting on Monday, November 18, 2019.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017