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Baltimore Mayor Scott creates new neighborhood safety office, picks consent decree community liaison to lead

Shantay Jackson will lead Baltimore's new Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, created to replace the Office of Criminal Justice and take a more public health approach to safety.
Shantay Jackson will lead Baltimore's new Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, created to replace the Office of Criminal Justice and take a more public health approach to safety. (Courtesty of Baltimore City Mayor's Office)

Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced a new effort to coordinate between public safety agencies that he said will “firmly establish public safety as a public health issue in Baltimore.”

The Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement will replace and expand the scope of the Office of Criminal Justice, the mayor’s office said. It will work with law enforcement agencies, including police and the State’s Attorney’s Office; city agencies, including the health department and recreation and parks; and community-based organizations.

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“As a city, we must embrace a more holistic strategy grounded in the immediate action we can take today while simultaneously addressing the root causes of violence — that’s the only way we will sustain reductions in crime,” Scott said in a statement.

The office will be led by Shantay Jackson, a community leader who was executive director of the Baltimore Community Mediation Center and served as the community liaison to the police department’s federal consent decree. Most recently, the mayor’s office said, she was a project manager for the Baltimore Neighbors Network, providing a mental health response to residents in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Office of Criminal Justice, which the new office replaces, coordinated programs such as Safe Streets and obtained and managed millions in grant funding to supplement city spending on law enforcement and community initiatives.

Officials did not immediately respond to a question about whether that office’s current director, Tamika Gauvin, would remain with the city.

Scott said the new office will, among other things, implement the revived effort at a “focused deterrence” violence intervention program.

“We must no longer subscribe to the thinking that police alone can stem the tide of violence,” Scott said. “We must ask what every agency and institution that interacts with our residents can do to stop the violence.”

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