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Baltimore's mayor makes public year-in-progress report of his crime prevention strategy

BALTIMORE -- Mayor Brandon Scott on Friday made public a safety report that shows a snapshot of the progress his administration has made under the implementation of his violence prevention plan.

The report on the incremental outcome of the five-year-long Comprehensive Violence Prevention Plan was compiled by the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE), according to city officials.

The plan aims to treat gun violence as though it is a public health crisis through coordinated and sustainable practices. 

Scott allocated $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds over the next three years to MONSE and charged it with funding violence prevention efforts, including community violence intervention, victim services, youth justice, re-entry services, and community healing. 

"Making Baltimore a safer city for all of our residents is the most critical undertaking of my administration; however, we can only produce sustained outcomes if we center our approach to public safety around public health, trauma-informed practices, and the lived experiences of our residents," Scott said. "This is not work that occurs overnight, but MONSE and my entire administration remain committed to building and operationalizing systems that will help us move Baltimore forward towards a healthier and safer future." 

To date, the year-old agency has accomplished the following:

  • Began implementation of the Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) in the Western Police District, in partnership with local and national technical advisors, BPD, the State's Attorney's Office, the United States Attorney's Office, federal and state law enforcement agencies including the DEA, ATF, FBI, U.S. Marshals, Maryland DPSCS, DJS, DP&P, other government services, and service providers Roca and YAP.
  • Developed a framework for a Community Violence Intervention (CVI) ecosystem recognized by partners in the White House that includes not only violence intervention programming, but also victim services, intensive life coaching, hospital-based response, school-based response, and other wraparound supports – a marked shift in strategy from past efforts that involve incomplete, disparate, and one-off efforts and initiatives.
  • Made award announcements totaling over $17.6 million to organizations focused on community violence intervention, victim services, youth justice, re-entry, and community healing to receive ARPA dollars targeted at improving public safety outcomes for our city. 
  • Finalized and publicly released the findings and recommendations of MONSE's internal evaluation of cultural and operational norms associated with Baltimore's 10 current Safe Streets sites - with a focus on providing greater support, safety, training, and career pathway development for the city's violence interrupters, while providing stronger accountability and oversight of the program as a whole.
  • Laid the foundation for expanded victim services for gunshot survivors to have a more direct, immediate impact on victims of gun violence. This is a new offering for the City of Baltimore and is integral to securing needed resources, reducing retaliation and revictimization, and working to mediate residual conflicts. 
  • Built the infrastructure for case management within MONSE, a new role for the agency, and started providing case management services and referrals to residents broadly impacted by gun violence and other traumatic events.
  • Activated the first Coordinated Neighborhood Stabilization Response (CNSR) in response to a mass shooting in the Eastern District. CNSR is a trauma-informed approach to violence prevention that mobilizes City agencies and community-based partners to embed critical, readily accessible resources in communities that experience acts of violence or other traumatic events over a 45-day period—both proactively and reactively. Informed by 211, 311 and 911 data, MONSE coordinates with partner agencies and organizations in the community so that each activation is specifically tailored to the response area.
  • Expanded services available to youth at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system in partnership with BPD, by initiating the City's first-ever youth pre-arrest diversion pilot, known as SideStep, in the Western District to MONSE's existing youth post-arrest diversion work. 
  • Began to lay a strong foundation for and work in partnership with two communities – Fayette Street Outreach/Penrose and Brooklyn/Curtis Bay – as part of a Neighborhood Policing Plan (NPP) pilot program. As part of this work, MONSE is coordinating interagency partners – including the Department of Housing and Community Development and BPD – to begin the development of a framework for a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) approach, aligned with the Mayor's recent inter-agency directive to address vacant buildings.
  • Closed out a backlog of previous contracts, totaling over $10M and spanning FY 2019 to FY 2021, which the agency inherited from the past administration. 
  • Re-established the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), held regular meetings and established a joint working plan to improve criminal justice coordination across local, state, and federal partners. MONSE staffs the CJCC and led a process by which workgroups were established and the foundation was laid for the forthcoming Public Safety Accountability Dashboard.
  • Testified in legislative hearings before the Maryland General Assembly and Baltimore City Council, in partnership with the Mayor's Office of Government Relations.

In fiscal year 2023, MONSE will focus on (1) deepening and broadening a partnership with law enforcement partners through the group violence reduction strategy, (2) further developing Baltimore's community violence intervention ecosystem, (3) increasing the capacity of community-based organizations to support the work of violence prevention, (4) developing a robust re-entry program for people experiencing incarceration, and (5) establishing internal and external data tracking tools to measure key performance indicators. 

Also on Friday, Scott made public his decision to tap former acting police commissioner Anthony Barksdale to be Baltimore's deputy mayor for public safety, according to city officials.

Scott revealed on Friday that he had asked Barksdale to oversee the policies and operations of the city's public safety agencies.

Those agencies include the Baltimore Police Department, the MONSE, the Baltimore City Fire Department, and the Office of Emergency Management.

Barksdale will also be tasked with ensuring the implementation of the city's consent decree.

Additionally, he expected to coordinate the implementation of the mayor's Comprehensive Violence Prevention Plan in partnership with MONSE.

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