31 People Shot In One Week In Baltimore; Mayor, Commissioner, State's Attorney Announce Plan To Stop Violence
BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Firefighters washed the blood from the 900 block of North Gilmor Street. The 26-year-old man shot multiple times there is one of more than 30 people gunned down in Baltimore City over the past week, and many across the city are fed up.
Baltimore City's mayor, police commissioner and state's attorney met at New Shiloh Baptist Church in the heart of West Baltimore Monday to lay out a holistic violence reduction plan. They admit current strategies are not working.
"Past public safety practices have failed to keep our communities safe from violence and harm. We cannot arrest our way out of a culture of violence," Commissioner Michael Harrison said.
"Throughout my life, we have failed to keep communities safe and keep people alive. We must do better—and I do mean we. Zero tolerance was appalling and did not work. The drug war did not work. Trying to arrest our way out of these problems did not work," Mayor Brandon Scott said.
None of the officials answered questions and closed the meeting to reporters after their initial comments.
"While we need the hammer of the justice system for violent offenses. We also know that we also need community outreach and services and programs to connect with people before they reach the justice system," city State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said.
The program they are launching is called The Group Violence Reduction Strategy, which brings city resources together with social services to address the causes of shootings and stop people from turning to violence.
It is a strategy the city tried and failed at implementing twice before under Mayors Kurt Schmoke and Stephanie Rawlings Blake. "There is a long road ahead. Things won't be smooth," Mayor Scott said.
The mayor's office and law enforcement will monitor the impact. They will watch the program over six months in the Western District and warn against expecting immediate results.
One mother who lost her son to violence knows the heartache too well. She declined to give her name but told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren Baltimore is not safe.
"I'm scared to go out and catch the bus and come home because I've got to walk two blocks to get to the bus stop," she said. "A lot of people want to come forward but they're afraid because they come after the witnesses."
Baltimore City officials cited Oakland, California as an example. They said Oakland reduced shootings by 20 percent over seven years with a similar program. But that city—like Baltimore—is now seeing another surge in violence.
City State's Attorney Mosby said she has no plans to change her policy of not prosecuting minor offenses. She said the mayor and commissioner are in "philosophical agreement" with her."
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