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Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott asks for public input on draft crime plan

Shantay Jackson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, talks about the new Draft Violence Reduction Framework and Plan.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is seeking public input to finalize the city’s comprehensive public safety plan, which he released in draft form Monday.

The plan, which has been in the works since before Scott took office in December, calls for coordination among multiple city agencies and partnerships across various levels of government, said Shantay Jackson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.

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Jackson appeared Monday with Scott and nearly a dozen other city officials, including the police and health commissioners, at the Safe Streets site in Cherry Hill to offer highlights of the plan and plead for the public to weigh in.

“We are sorry. Let me say that again. We are sorry,” said Jackson, addressing the residents of the city who have suffered as a result of ongoing violence in Baltimore, which has seen six straight years of more than 300 homicides. “We are explicitly breaking from past practices.”

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The plan formalizes a holistic approach to public safety that Scott has described since taking office, addressing the need for each city agency and institution to invest in strategies to stop violence, Scott said. Portions of the plan rely on a violence prevention framework developed by city Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa in coordination with a task force last year.

“Violence is a public health issue,” Jackson said. “Violence is a public health crisis.”

The plan calls for more preventive measures to be taken against violence, including engaging city residents at the highest risk for being shot or becoming shooters themselves, Jackson said. Baltimore officials also hope to offer better pre-arrest diversion programs and create a reentry council.

Scott said he also plans to create a “neighborhood stat” system, similar to other stat trackers for crime and public services, that will track data from various city neighborhoods to view the types of work city agencies are doing there with an eye on providing equitable service.

Residents can read the plan on the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement website. A series of public sessions will be held on Facebook to gather input as well as several breakout brainstorming sessions, Jackson said. Residents also can weigh in via a survey on the office’s website.

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