Is Ceasefire Baltimore’s Answer?

Crime

Baltimore has seen 33 murders this year. We are 44 days into 2014. After a more hopeful 2012 where Baltimore had its 2nd lowest murder rate* since the late 1980’s this is particularly striking. Communities are reeling and wanting answers. I was at a community meeting last night that had over 500 participants.   Mayor Rawlings Blake has recently announced new crime fighting strategies in her State of the City address like implementing Operation Ceasefire and opening 24 hour Youth Connection Centers.

Operation Ceasefire had three components. Recognized gang members would be brought in under probation or parole authority, and given an opportunity to listen to concerned members of their own community express their desire for the violence to stop. Social workers would offer services to help them detach from the cycle of violence, and the police would assure them that each gang that continued to engage in violence, starting with the most violent, would be effectively targeted and removed from the streets. They were asked to relay this threefold message to their fellow gang members. Recognizing that the gang members were arming themselves because of the escalating violence and the fears they had for their safety, the police pledged to react strongly to any threats against those cooperating with the effort.

The program resulted in a dramatic reduction in violence and cooperation between gang members and police, where they became so confident of its success that they would report to the police on new, aggressive gangs and ride with officers to help identify members.[1]

Operation Ceasefire has been replicated and deemed successful in cities including Minneapolis, MN, St. Louis, MO, Los Angeles, CA.

Though mostly determined a success, critics have identified limitations[2] of Boston’s Ceasefire implementation such as:

  • The violence reduction strategy, based on deterrence, was reactive and focused solely on individual blame and punishment.
  • None of the youth gang members participated in the intervention design and implementation.
  • The intervention did not address major external risk factors, such as environmental and socioeconomic barriers, which are both powerful influences on behavior and major causes of violence.

Currently Baltimore is grasping at any viable solution to help this crisis.  While we wait to see the outcome of these programs, our sister blog has created a list of things you can do now to help your community and Baltimore as a whole rise.

 

*with population adjustment


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_M._Kennedy_(author)

[2] http://sb721.blogspot.com/2006/12/behind-guns-failure-of-bostons.html

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Stephanie Grocott

I am a skilled event planner and researcher. In my role as Project Specialist, I plan national conferences, manage virtual training events, conduct research, and work on development initiatives for projects such as the MLK Day of Service and Social Innovation Fund. Read more.

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