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MONSE director Shantay Jackson, on strategies to curb gun violence

Shooting Near Mall
Jose Luis Magana/AP
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FR159526 AP
Yellow crime tape blocks off an area near a mall parking area where two Baltimore city police officers were shot and a suspect was killed as a U.S. Marshals’ task force served a warrant, on July 13, 2021, in Baltimore, Md. The police officers' injuries were not life threatening. The number of homicides in Baltimore climbed past 300 last week, making 2022 the eighth consecutive year that murders in the city -- mostly from gun violence -- have exceeded that grim toll. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Last week, for the eighth consecutive year, Baltimore reached the grim milestone of more than 300 homicides in the year, with a month still to go. There are those who insist on telling the story of our city by focusing on the number of murders. But to tell it only through the lens of crime is, of course, to tell our city’s story incompletely, and it does a disservice to those who help make Baltimore’s story a positive one.

But the murder rate is definitely something to which political and law enforcement leaders should be held accountable. Mayor Brandon Scott made promises about the rate at which violence in our city would be reduced that he has not been able to keep. Two years ago, Scott promised a 15% annual reduction in the number of annual murders. That goal remains merely an aspiration.

It's not that the Mayor hasn’t thought about how to improve this situation. In July of last year, he released a five year, comprehensive violence prevention plan. At the heart of this plan is GVRS, or Group Violence Reduction Strategy, launched in partnership with the Baltimore Police Department, the State’s Attorney’s Office and federal partners.

Shantay Jackson crop-horiz-headshot.jpg
Shantay Jackson was appointed in January 2021 by Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott as director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. (MONSE photo)

A pilot program of GVRS has been in place for almost a year in the Western Police District. Has it been effective, and is it ready to be scaled up to other areas in the city?

The plan is overseen by Shantay Jackson, who directs the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, or MONSE. Last June, a year after the plan was released, Ms. Jackson faced a frustrated Baltimore City Council, many of whose members expressed impatience with the pace of improvement.

As 2022 nears a close, we’ve invited Director Jackson to be with us today to explain what the Group Violence Reduction Strategy is, and to assess its value moving forward.

MONSE Director Shantay Jackson joins us on Zoom…

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