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'End the disease of gun violence': Community violence intervention program helping drop homicide rate

Posted at 6:34 PM, Apr 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-25 18:34:39-04

BALTIMORE — It’s been one year since Mayor Brandon Scott announced plans to implement his community violence intervention ecosystem

Leaders of the community violence intervention ecosystem, otherwise known as CVI, said since the launch of this initiative one year ago, statistics show the work they’ve been doing has been effective.

However, now they’re focusing on expanding and trying every way possible to end the disease of gun violence especially infecting our youth.

“As a city, even as we stand here today with a year over year 19% reduction of homicides and 18% reduction in non-fatal shootings, we're still losing way too many people to violence but more specifically young people,” Scott said.

Tuesday multiple city agencies gathered to talk about CVI, its progress, and how they’re planning to expand it.

Dr. Sonja Santelises, who's the CEO of Baltimore city schools, said the public health issue of gun violence involving youth seems to be getting worse.

“We have had a winter like none we have ever had when it comes to young people who have been slain, whose lives have been taken from violence,” Santelises said.

MONSE leaders like Shantay Jackson who ‘s the director helping implement the CVI ecosystem said thanks to 44 partnerships of various city agencies and community leaders, they’ve invested $7.3 million to help with the issues of tackling violence and the support services needed following a violent incident.

“Integrating Baltimore Hospital network into the CVI ecosystem has already yielded us great work including the public safety partnership group around victim services. In addition to hospital base programs we’ve also secured $1 million to get our school base intervention pilot program up and running,” Jackson said.

City leaders said next semester they plan to launch a violence intervention program inside three city schoolsMervo, Carver, and Digital Harbor, all known for having issues.

“When you’re able to identify young people who need to support families, who need the support prior to a conflict exploding it allows a lot of these incidents we seen in these high schools not to spread. So it’s both preventative and nature, but it also helps to mitigate what’s often the fallout,” Dr. Santelises said.

Violence intervention programs in hospitals for front line workers coming in contact with gunshot victims has already been effective, just like community organizations like Safe Streets.

City leaders said because of their front line sacrifice they will be awarded $5 million in ARPA funds to continue their work.

“Violence is a disease, and it is up to us as a community to break the cycle,” Jackson said.

Leaders said the next phase of this CVI ecosystem will also allow them to be more transparent with the progress being made. They will be able to provide quarterly and annual reports of data across the 10 sites, they will also provide the reason or root issues causing some of these violent incidents to begin with.

City leaders also told WMAR as it relates to the youth curfew previously mentioned, they are still working out the details concerning exactly what that will look like, but it will be unique and it will be the first of its kind in Baltimore city.