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Baltimore Receives $7.9M To Fund Violence Prevention Programs, Implement Parts Of Consent Decree

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore City has received $7.9 million in federal dollars for public safety programs, including $5.3 million to help the Baltimore Police Department implement elements of the consent decree, local elected leaders said.

Programs to update the city's 9-1-1 phone system that diverts low-risk calls to behavioral health professionals and purchase a new records management system will receive $2 million apiece.

Another $650,000 will add more communities to a pilot program for Neighborhood Policing Plans addressing specific public safety concerns in some of the city's 200 neighborhoods. Baltimore police will use an additional $650,000 to develop training sessions and committees that encourage civic participation in police reform.

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, Kweisi Mfume and John Sarbanes appeared at an event in front of City Hall to announce the new round of congressionally directed funding, or earmarks.

"What you see here is our federal delegation asking us, What do you need to help you come into compliance with the consent decree to create a 21st-century police department?" said Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. "And they have gone to their colleagues, and the congressmen and senators that have now brought back funds to help us improve the technology, improve the processes, all of which helps us get in compliance and then ultimately out of this consent decrees faster."

Additionally, $2.614 million will go to nonprofit organizations with violence prevention programs such as Safe Streets, Roca Baltimore, the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, and LifeBridge Health.

"We are working to try to make sure we piece together a series of funds to address the issue of violent crime in Baltimore City, and we all know there's no one answer here," said Van Hollen. "We all know you need a comprehensive approach here."

Shock Trauma and LifeBridge both offer support systems for victims of violence, including therapy, case management and legal services.

Living Classrooms Foundation, which operates two Safe Streets sites, will receive $750,000 to develop a crisis management initiative.

And Roca Baltimore will get $400,000 for transitional employment, mediation and family assistance to help young men land stable jobs through the organization's South Baltimore Peacemaking Pilot Program.

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