BALTIMORE (AP) — Aiming to treat gun violence as a public health crisis, Baltimore’s mayor on Friday unveiled a five-year violence reduction plan for the U.S. city where violent crime rates have remained high since a 2015 surge.
Mayor Brandon Scott, who took office in December, said the plan aims to end the city’s foundering efforts to tackle its top problem. He asserted that Baltimore — which has had four mayors and five police commissioners over the past six years alone — had never before developed a multiyear strategy to stem violence, instead lurching from year to year with disparate approaches.
Now, Baltimore is touting an all-hands-on-deck strategy, beefing up investments in violence intervention programs such as Safe Streets, increasing community engagement and putting a renewed focus on diminishing illegal guns. Overall, the plan aims to reduce gun violence by 15% per year.
“We understand that no single policy or initiative serves as a cure-all for the long legacy of violence Baltimore has endured. There’s no silver bullet. However, I believe wholeheartedly that this transformative approach can move the needle and make every neighborhood in Baltimore a safer place to live,” Scott said outside a community center.
Gun violence rates have remained high in Baltimore since the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a young Black man who suffered a fatal injury in police custody. His death triggered massive protests and the city’s worst riots in decades.
Maryland’s biggest city has recorded more than 300 annual homicides for six years in a row. So far this year, it has recorded 192 homicides, compared with 183 during the same period last year. There’s been nearly 400 nonfatal shootings so far in 2021.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the new plan combines “effective policing” with other approaches to strengthen community relationships and build back trust. Since 2017, Baltimore has been under federal oversight after the U.S. Justice Department discovered longstanding patterns of excessive force, unlawful arrests and discriminatory police practices.
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Law enforcement alone cannot effectively reduce violent crime, the police commissioner said.
“This is about breaking the cycle and culture of violence in our city, rather than the sole reliance […]
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