Baltimore City Health Department Announces Catholic Charities to Serve as Community Partner for Safe Streets Expansion in West Baltimore

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BALTIMORE, MD (January 27, 2016)– Baltimore City Health Department today announced that Catholic Charities of Baltimore has been awarded the contract for the newest Safe Streets Baltimore location that will bring the program credited with reducing gun violence to the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood beginning late next month. The new site will be Baltimore City’s fifth Safe Streets location, joining locations in the Cherry Hill, Mondawmin, Park Heights, and McElderry Park neighborhoods.

“We know that violence spreads like an infection, but just like infectious diseases, it can be prevented. Safe Streets is a critical component in stopping this contagion,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.“We are thrilled to work with Catholic Charities to help bring this program to West Baltimore. By expanding this evidence-based initiative, we help reduce homicides, decrease gun violence, and save lives.”

Safe Streets Baltimore was launched by the Baltimore City Health Department in 2007 as a replication of the national Cure Violence program. This public health initiative employs and trains outreach professionals to de-escalate and mediate disputes that might otherwise result in acts of violence.

Safe Streets maintains that violence is a learned behavior that can be prevented using disease control methods. This intervention targets at risk youth, aged 14 to 25, through regular individual interactions, conflict mediation, media campaigns and community mobilization.

The program aims to prevent violence through a three-prong approach:

  1. Identification and detection;
  2. Interruption, intervention, and risk reduction; and
  3. Changing behavior and norms.

Safe Streets Baltimore has realized significant success, with three sites having at least one twelve month period with no homicides. In 2014, Safe Streets workers had 15,000 client interactions and mediated 880 conflicts. More than 80 percent of interactions were deemed to be “likely” or “very likely” to result in gun violence. Three of the four sites have gone over a year without a fatal shooting.

“Changing our city’s culture of violence requires a community-wide approach and we have seen how Safe Streets is a valuable part of these efforts, said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "We look forward to seeing this program expand to West Baltimore where it will utilize credible messengers and interrupt violence at its source.”

The new location operated by Catholic Charities will be staffed by six employees: a program site director, a violence prevention coordinator and four outreach workers/violence interrupters and will be based in the former convent building of St. Peter Claver Church on N. Fremont Ave.

The program is funded with support from the Abell Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the National Association of County and City Health Officials, (NACCHO), and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“We are looking forward to working with our community partners and with our new colleagues to reduce violence in West Baltimore,” said Bill McCarthy, executive director of Catholic Charities. “We are bringing on great people from within the Sandtown-Winchester community who will have a positive impact and make a difference in their neighborhood and the city.”

For more information on the Safe Streets program, please visit http://health.baltimorecity.gov/safestreets.

For more information about Catholic Charities of Baltimore please visit www.catholiccharities-md.org.