A feature story in Baltimore magazine asks “Can Defund Work in Baltimore?” Writer J. Brian Charles talked to several members of the OSI-supported Coalition for Justice, Safety, and Jobs (CJSJ), who have been calling for a portion of the policing budget to be divested and invested in community-based efforts to promote public safety. Specifically, CJSJ has called for $100 million to divested from the Baltimore Police Department’s $555 million over the next two years.
Charles chronicles the recent history of police reform efforts in Baltimore and describes advocates’ tireless work to move the needle.
Over a decade of activism focused on the city’s notorious police force, [advocates have] learned that effecting lasting change isn’t as simple as a single summer of outrage. Instead, they are pushing for gradual movement on the city budget and the slow toil of working through bureaucracy. These advocates hope to convince both their neighbors and their political representatives that the bold choice is the one that will keep them all safer.
The story focuses largely on Ray Kelly, the founder of Citizens Policing Project and recipient of OSI-Baltimore’s Strategic Action award in 2018, who Charles describes as “the local face of police reform activism.” Kelly acknowledges that he does not have all the answers to the ongoing problems with policing and public safety in Baltimore, but is intent on approaching the issue methodically.
“The key is not to present the solution, because I don’t know the solution,” Kelly says. “It’s about taking the time to get the shit right.”