Brandon Scott, DEI, Baltimore mayor, Hana Pugh

Baltimore’s Group Violence Reduction Strategy Leads To Arrests Of 12 Individuals On Drug-Trafficking Charges

Since Baltimore implemented the program, gun violence, like shootings and killings, have seen a 30% decrease.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and other Baltimore city officials announced the indictments of 12 individuals believed to be members of a drug trafficking organization after the city conducted a four-month-long investigation in the city’s Irvington neighborhood, located on the Southside of Baltimore.

During a March 14 press conference, Mayor Scott said that the indictments represented an important development for reducing crime in the city. “This is about going after those responsible for driving violence across our city and inflicting harm upon our communities.”

As WBALTV reported, Baltimore’s Group Violence Reduction Strategy, which included the investigation concluding with the arrests of 10 individuals ranging from 17 to 35, was aimed at getting those who wanted to get off the streets. However, as Scott emphasized, if those individuals did not want to play ball, they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

“Sending young men to prison is not our goal. But if you do not take us up, if you do not change your life, this will also happen to you. That is the only choice that you have.”

Scott continued, “When you tell us to pound sand, and we’re going to do what we want to do anyway, I don’t play poker, I don’t bluff. This is what’s going to happen to you.”

The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE) Director Stefanie Mavronis backed up Scott’s claim that the city offered a way out, saying, “In this particular instance, members of this group were invited to a call-in as part of a strategy to offer services and deliver GVRS’s anti-violence message. They, unfortunately, made the choice to decline this outreach and continued participating in activities associated with violence.”

Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley told WBALTV that the community already feels safer, “Since they have removed these individuals, the community has already reached out saying they are much more comfortable in the space, and they’ve seen an impact in what the officers have done.”

Baltimore’s program is one example that the Center for American Progress cited in a 2022 report as an example of community-based interventions in violent crime that actually work to prevent gun violence and violent crime. 

The Center for American Progress writes, “These programs have proven successful in reducing gun violence and violent crime more broadly in communities over the past two decades—in some communities by as much as 60 percent.”

Despite this, these programs are often underfunded. In Baltimore’s case, since they implemented the program, part of its larger Cure Violence program, gun violence, like shootings and killings, has seen a 30% decrease. These programs also help to keep Black people from being trapped in the carceral system by providing opportunities to divert from violent crime. As of 2020, Black people suffered 59% of incidents of gun violence despite only constituting 13% of the American population. 

In its conclusion, the Center for American Progress calls for programs like the one in Baltimore to be implemented if America is serious about addressing gun violence in communities nationwide.

“Community-based violence intervention programs are essential for combating the rise in gun violence and violent crime. Their models have not only proven to reduce rates of gun violence, but they are powerful resources in addressing the disproportionate impact of gun violence on communities of color and young people. If the United States is truly to address gun violence and violent crime, CVIs have to be part of the solution.”

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