Words by Tess Becker
Depending on where you look, Baltimore, Maryland, may have as much as the second-highest number of murders per capita in the United States. According to the World Population Review, that number is around 51.1 per 100,000 people.
Now, Baltimore city officials are trying to stem that tide.
The strategy, called Group Violence Reduction Strategy, which was implemented last year has already led to some success with criminal indictments against 33 people accused of operating a violent drug trafficking organization.
The Group Violence Reduction Strategy uses an individualized “focused deterrence” approach to target potential shooters and victims, offering them services and support where possible, in lieu of law enforcement action. The goal is to reach people before they commit or are the victim of a crime getting to things at the root.
“Don’t let this be you,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said announcing the indictments. “We want you to change your life. We want you to stay alive. We don’t want you to go to jail. But if you choose to do this, that’s what’s going to happen to you.”
Similar programs have seen success in other cities and Baltimore has even tried similar measures before but never with much success.
“As our city and state continue to grapple with overdose deaths and addiction, we must dismantle these organizations that destroy our neighborhoods and damage our quality of life through drug distribution,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said.
Now with newfound success hopefully Baltimore can keep the positive momentum rolling. In the meantime, check out the Baltimore Harm Reduction Collective to see an organization helping people on the streets.