READ: Text of Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed’s State of the City Address
Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed presented his State of the City Address at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex on Wednesday night.
Here is the text of that speech, as provided by the Mayor’s Office:
I can tell you, this city and its people are ready to start a new journey. Together, we will move boldly forward with passion and purpose. And together, we will realize an even more prosperous and more equitable Montgomery.
When I took office, we had a game plan and a timeline to bring forth the New Montgomery. While the pandemic might have delayed us, it did not deter us.
That is why I look forward to this year even as we look back at the challenges and opportunities of 2021.
Public safety in Montgomery is my TOP PRIORITY moving into this New Year. There is no higher priority than the peace and prosperity of the people of this city.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our city – like cities across the United States – faced an epidemic of violent gun-related crime. It is a national problem – and one that cannot be solved overnight. It is a challenge that will require action from all of us.
We’re doing our part. This year, we will invest half a million dollars into our gunfire detection and prevention systems. That means acquiring and installing new cameras. License Plate Readers, and ShotSpotter units throughout Montgomery. These systems are working.
Last year, our officers confiscated more than 1,650 illegal firearms.
MPD’s solvability rate for violent crime stands at 77 PERCENT – one of the nation’s BEST RATES. We are putting violent offenders in jail…. That’s why I joined Montgomery County DA Daryl Bailey to call on our judicial branch to raise the bail for murder from $150,000 in Montgomery to more than one million dollars. A higher bond rate for violent offenders will give our community a better understanding of the type of change that’s needed to make our neighborhoods safer.
Just as we’re calling on cooperation from our judicial system, we are calling on greater collaboration from our state legislative branch. Two bills were pre-filed this session that would threaten the work we’re doing to combat illegal weapons and gun-related crime. These bills aim to repeal permitting for concealed weapons and make it harder for our D.A.s to share evidence when certain weapons are used to commit a crime. These laws would make it exponentially more difficult to police and to protect our city.
We will soon welcome a new chief of police to our community. We vetted a total of 42 applicants from 15 different states, including Interim Chief Ramona Harris, who has been a steady presence for the department during this time of transition.
Ultimately, we will name the finalists and make our selection in coordination with input from our community leaders and neighborhood advocates. That is important because we not only want a chief who yields results – but someone who understands the dynamics of our community.
Another key component to this is the Office of Violence Prevention, which we launched December. Longtime community faith leader Bishop Keith Moore has been tapped as the director of the Office of Violence Prevention. This department will work to interrupt and address the root causes of violence in our community.
However, this will not happen overnight but I believe it will undoubtedly result in a more successful approach to building a safer Montgomery.
Yet just as we talk about preventing violence in our community, we must recommit ourselves to criminal justice reform. We cannot treat non-violent offenders the same as those who threaten the safety and sanctity of our city. For decades, the system sought to trap citizens in a cycle of punitive punishment – one that only leads to poverty. To remedy this, we will end excessive courts costs – fines and fees – for low-level offenses that do not threaten the safety and sanctity of our city.
I also know that many Montgomerians have raised concerns about the subject of panhandling while inquiring about how we can help those experiencing homelessness in our city. While refraining from stigmatization, we must confront these issues with kindness and compassion.
We are working with nonprofits and the Montgomery Emergency Management Agency to aid the needs of the least of these as best we can. That is why this administration seeks to launch a Task Force to address homelessness this year.
Another concern many of you have raised; deals with the issue of litter and trash. Don’t be dismayed, I hear you. And that’s is why we have put together an action plan and are taking strides to address this issue.
Litter and trash aren’t only on the ground, but the subject finds its way into my inbox quite often… and by way of text from my own mother.
We have put together an action plan and are taking strides in addressing this issue. In this year’s budget, I allocated ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS to the Montgomery Clean City Commission.