Baltimore City Announces $500,000 Grant for Hospital-Based Violence Interrupters


BALTIMORE, Md. (September 29, 2016)—The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) today announced that the agency has been awarded a $500,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to support the planning and implementation of a comprehensive hospital-based community violence intervention program. The program, known as the Baltimore City Thriving Communities Project, will expand Baltimore City’s Safe Streets program into emergency departments (EDs), utilizing Hospital Responders to reduce violence-related injury re-admissions by resolving conflicts immediately after an altercation occurs to prevent retaliation.

The implementation of the Baltimore City Thriving Communities Project will begin with Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“As an emergency physician who has treated patients dying from gunshot wounds, I will never forget the cries of mothers whose children could not be resuscitated in our EDs. I have seen the cycle of violence and trauma, and why we need every interaction to be the point of intervention to stop this vicious cycle. Safe Streets has shown us that violence interruption works: we can prevent shootings and cure violence with credible messengers,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “By expanding this model into out hospitals, we can further reduce trauma, save lives, and prevent the risks of re-injury, retaliation and death from gun violence in our communities.”

BCHD officials made the announcement during the second Healthy Baltimore 2020 Community Conversation, a town hall meeting offering residents the opportunity to provide public comment for Healthy Baltimore 2020, BCHD’s recently released strategic blueprint for health and wellness through the lens of health equity. Thursday’s conversation focused on understanding of violence as a public health issue and ongoing efforts across Baltimore to address violence upstream.

Addressing violence and public safety are key priorities for Baltimore City, and BCHD strongly believes that preventing violence is an essential function of public health. The hallmark model for violence prevention at BCHD is Safe Streets, a program launched 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. In 2015, Safe Streets outreach workers mediated nearly 700 conflicts, nearly 80 percent of which were deemed “likely” or “very likely” to have resulted in gun violence.

In addition to neighborhood-level impact, the program also prevents the intensive trauma and often costly city-wide ripple effects associated with a major event of violence.

During the Community Conversation, health officials honored more than a dozen partners from across Baltimore for their commitment to a public health approach to reducing violence and achieving health equity in their communities. Awardees included:

  • James Piper Bond, Executive Director, Living Classrooms
  • Dr. Carnell Cooper, Clinical Associate Professor, University of Maryland Medical Center
  • Rev. Dr. Alvin Hathaway, Senior Pastor, Union Baptist Church
  • Cheo Hurley, Executive Director, Park Heights Renaissance
  • Bill McCarthy, Executive Director Catholic Charities of Baltimore
  • Paula Brooks McClellan, Chief Executive Officer, Family Health Centers of Baltimore
  • Bishop Douglas Miles, Koinonia Baptist Church
  • Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Russell, Baltimore City Police Department
  • The Honorable Brandon M. Scott, Councilman, Baltimore City Council, District 2
  • William Tipper Thomas, Executive Director, TIPPER Foundation
  • Pastor Cleoda Walker, Associate Pastor, Cherry Chill Community Presbyterian Church
  • Dr. Daniel Webster, Professor of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
  • Anthony Williams, Administrator, Shake N Bake Center
  • Darleen Won, ‎Director of Population Health, LifeBridge Health Sinai

Healthy Baltimore 2020 is designed as an ongoing project. BCHD will continue to seek community input in the coming weeks and months.

To facilitate public discussion, Baltimore City Health Department will continue to host Community Conversations on each of the strategic priority areas identified in Healthy Baltimore 2020, including behavioral health, violence prevention, chronic disease, and life course and core services. BCHD held the first Healthy Baltimore 2020 Community Conversation, focused on behavioral health late last month.

“The input and support of our community is critical to creating a framework that truly supports the health of our residents. We are so fortunate to work with passionate community partners, and are honored to celebrate their dedication to improving health and wellbeing in our city.” “Dr. Wen added. “Everyone has a role to play in improving health in Baltimore City, and we need the involvement of all those committed to improving health to guide our strategy moving forward.”

Comments on the report can be submitted at The complete Health Baltimore 2020 report is available at

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