Baltimore’s Safe Streets Celebrate More than a Year Without a Murder

On April 22, 2014, Najee Thomas was shot in the head in his home–This was over 400 days ago. Cure Violence partner, Safe Streets in Baltimore had a great year. Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, visited the Cherry Hill Safe Streets site to celebrate more than a year without a deadly shooting and is referring to the success as an important milestone for the city. Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen joined community members on Tuesday, June 2 to recognize their dedication and success with a cookout, games for children, and family activities. Thanks to the Safe Streets team and the community for their hard work mediating conflicts that could have led to shootings in the Cherry Hill neighborhood. The Safe Streets violence interrupters mediated 60 conflicts just in Cherry Hill during the first four months of the year, and 97% of those were likely or very likely to have led to a shooting.

The Safe Streets program is made up of people who formerly lived the lives they are trying to help so many young people out of. Cathy McClain, Executive Director of Cherry Hill Trust, told reporters that she thinks “having the few number of violence interrupters and the level of success we have in Cherry Hill is phenomenal. Safe Streets is the only program, the only program that takes the position that every life has value. Every life has value.”

The Baltimore Health Department sees violence as a public health issue. The Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, states that like other diseases, we can “use public health strategies in an evidence-based approach to prevent and treat violence and reduce homicides and non-fatal shootings”. The Cure Violence model focuses on treating violence as a contagious disease. In order to stop its spread, violence interrupters detect and interrupt conflicts, identify and treat the highest risk individuals, and work to change social norms within the communities where violence is viewed as a norm in dealing with conflicts.

Programs like Cure Violence and Safe Streets provide proof and hope that violence will be ultimately eradicated.