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Public Safety Committee releases violence reduction plan

Dominique Maria Bonessi

The Baltimore City Council’s Public Safety Committee released a violence reduction strategy today, a day after community organizations pleaded with Mayor Catherine Pugh to release her plan.

The committee plan calls for launching a youth safety network, expanding the Safe Streets program, and supporting citizen led violence reduction efforts.

Brandon Scott, chair of the Public Safety Committee, tweeted out the gun violence reduction strategy this morning. Scott says the plan has five pillars; stop shootings, create more jobs and opportunity, focus on neighborhoods, and further support the city’s police department.

"This is us saying listen this is the framework through which the conversation started which we think we should work from," said Scott. "We have to look at violence as a disease and attack it in that fashion. This is how we start to do that."

The committee’s plan comes in response to the 208 homicides and the unprecedented rate of gun violence the city has witnessed so far in 2017.

Scott said it would “relatively” easy to expand the Safe Streets, which has faced funding problems in the past.

"You’re not talking about a lot of money when you’re talking about the city’s budget. Even if we expanded it by one or two sites over the two years that is something that is easily obtainable for the city," said Scott.

“I think it is great," said Mayor Pugh in response to the committee's plan and adds, "I think people can put out all the plans that they want. I have the responsibility to make sure we implement a plan. That is responsible that can be funded that is safe. That takes into account all of the issues that the city is facing.”

She said her plan is being reviewed by federal partners that have experience in reduced violence in Los Angeles. The same federal partners that Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would roll-back on if cities, like Baltimore, do not comply with the jailing of immigrants under federal immigration policy.

“As you all well know we don’t even control the jails here, that is a state issue, so perhaps he’ll get some more information and learn how the process takes place in the state of Maryland," said Pugh. "Especially in Baltimore city; thumbs up!”

Mayor Pugh invited Sessions to Baltimore to learn more about how the jail system works in Maryland. State Attorney General Brian Frosh says that jails can be sued for unlawful detention if they hold individuals past their release date without a judicial warrant.

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