Baltimore takes step toward becoming ‘trauma-responsive city’

Every Baltimore City Council meeting ends with a moment of silence for the city’s homicide victims.

It’s a regular reminder of the unrelenting violence that shapes the lives and deaths of thousands of Baltimore families. At its Monday meeting, the council voted in support of a bill it says will address the trauma left behind.


Councilman Zeke Cohen’s legislation would create a “Trauma-Informed Care Task Force" and train city employees on how to do their jobs in a way that lessens, rather than exacerbates, harm. Before the council unanimously voted to support the bill, Cohen told the stories of two recent homicide victims: 21-year-old Destiny Harrison and 36-year-old Carmen Rodriguez.

“We are living in a city where people murder mothers in front of their children,” Cohen said. “That trauma those children have endured will only get worse.”


Members of Doctors for America joined Cohen for a news conference after the council meeting to support the legislation, saying it would improve collaboration between city agencies and health care providers.

The legislation must still be voted on again by the council, and then will head to the mayor’s office for a signature.

Also speaking in support of the legislation was 18-year-old Damani Thomas, a senior at Frederick Douglass High School. After a shooting at the high school last year, Douglass students worked with Cohen to draft the bill.

Thomas said legislation devoted to addressing trauma will normalize discussions about it, and show young people that how they feel is nothing to be ashamed of.

“Victims of trauma are not disposable,” he said. “Their ability to contribute positively to our city is very real.”