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Improve Safe Streets, don't eliminate it [Letter]

Operation Safe Streets reduces violence, creates community ties and saves lives. One incident or even several, should highlight the need for improvement but not for elimination of this worthwhile program ("Safe Streets program of dubious value," Dec. 5).

A basic problem with the program from its inception is the lack of training and support for the outreach workers. Every one of these workers experienced a life of trauma, and many were addicts or have mental health related problems. Hence, their potential for effectively engaging their targets. However, the flip side is that they need support.

The training of these workers must be expanded to address these issues. Training must be followed by continuing substance use and mental health treatment and support. It is unfair to all to send these staff out without this.

There will always be bad players among the staff, but that does not mean the program is bad. How many bankers have we seen arrested in the last year, but we will continue to have banks and investment bankers.

The goal for Operation Safe Streets should be to take the best of the program and then improve it. These improvements will benefit the staff, the impacted neighborhoods and the city of Baltimore.

Deborah Agus, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Behavioral Health Leadership Institute, Inc.

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To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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