OSI-Baltimore is among several funders supporting a new collaborative, community-based approach to reducing violence in Baltimore City, called the Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS).
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Office of the State’s Attorney co-released a statement announcing the strategy last week, suggesting the approach “requires strong collaboration between law enforcement, support and outreach providers, and community members, who engage directly with those most intimately involved in and affected by violence to keep them safe, alive, and free.”
The strategy, also called “focused deterrence,” consists of several coordinated initiatives that aim to prevent violence by providing services to those most likely to be affected by violence. In this initial announcement, the city described three of those initiatives:
- The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) to “develop a robust programmatic response to support underserved high-risk adults to help them not only stay safe and out of prison, but also provide an opportunity to reach a variety of personal goals, develop prosocial connections, and build self-sufficiency and confidence.” The MOCJ will provide $1,200,000 in funding for the first year.
- Establishing Baltimore Community Intelligence Centers (BCICs) to “provide a mechanism for interagency coordination that builds on existing collaboration between city, state, and federal partners. By incorporating staff from the State’s Attorney’s Office at the district level, BCICs will provide the physical infrastructure to convene all GVRS law enforcement and community partners.”
- A “technical assistance package” to “support all aspects of planning, implementation, and evaluation of the GVR Strategy,” directed by a technical assistance team with Baltimore-based staff, led by Dr. Anthony Braga of Northeastern University.
In a staff editorial today, the Baltimore Sun Editorial Board said the new approach provides “room for hope,” amid another year of more than 300 murders. “The city is embarking on a holistic approach to homicides that has the potential to result in institutional change over the long haul by disrupting the culture of violence,” they said. “The idea is provide support to the most at-risk men, those over the age of 25 who are responsible for most of the gun violence, and teach them to resolve conflict without a gun and give them a path to a better life by connecting to them to community groups and services including skills training, housing assistance and substance abuse treatment — whatever it is that is keeping them from being productive members of society.”