Crime /

Maryland Announces New Actions To Address Gun Violence

Law enforcement is working with community groups to keep repeat violent offenders off the street

Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek Barron has released a new video promoting an initiative aimed at reducing gun violence.

The 60-second public service announcement aired across the state just before the kickoff of the Baltimore Ravens season opening game on Sept. 10.

The new initiative, Project Safe Neighborhoods, brings together community-based organizations and law enforcement to develop ways to reduce violence throughout the state’s various communities.

“Gun violence impacts more than one person or one family. Friends, parents, employers, neighbors – all are forced to confront the devastating realities of gun violence,” Barron said in a joint statement. “We are bringing together law enforcement, community organizations, and private citizens in pursuit of a common goal: protecting the places we call home.”

Baltimore, Maryland is one of the most violent cities in the country. Though there is some conflicting data, most reporting shows that for eight years the city has surpassed 300 homicides or been close to that number.

Data analysis of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WONDER Database shows there is 45.9 gun related deaths per 100,000 residents, which is nearly three-and-a-half times higher than the national average.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) says it is seeking to hold accountable repeat violent offenders and criminal organizations that are driving the violence.

“The Baltimore Police Department along with our many law enforcement partners are committed to ending gun violence and breaking the cycle of trauma it brings to our communities,” acting Police Commissioner Richard J. Worley said in the joint statement. “Our residents and neighborhoods deserve better and our agency remains steadfast in implementing Community Policing strategies and working collaboratively with our communities to create a safer Baltimore for all.”

According to the USAO website, the largest component of Project Safe Neighborhoods is the coordinated prosecution of illegal firearms possession by violent repeat offenders. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will screen each firearm arrest and forward cases that meet certain criteria for review by the USAO, who could bring charges in federal court.

The USAO is also working with community organizations on programs to reduce recidivism by helping re-integrate people who have been released from jail or prison. As part of the program, employers will meet with newly released citizens to provide job opportunities.

“We have seen that we can lessen urban violence by relentlessly finding and engaging the young people living at the center of it,” Kurtis Palermo, Executive Vice President of Roca Maryland, a nonprofit working with young men, said in the joint statement. “Young men can change—and our communities can heal—if we help them address the trauma that is at the root of violence and provide the skills and support they need to learn to think and act differently.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*