(Screengrab from Baltimore City Police Dept. Press Conference video)

In 2015, Baltimore shattered records with 344 homicides – the most per capita in the city’s history.  Now, the city is getting support from the city’s largest private employer to stem the tide in its record epidemic of violent crime.  

City leaders joined Johns Hopkins University (JHU) recently to announce a new partnership to develop interventions that will reduce violence in Baltimore.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, City Council President Bernard C. Young, Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels and Director of the JHU Center for Gun Policy and Research Daniel Webster to announce the new initiative.

“This working relationship…. will result in a more effective, data-driven strategy to reduce violence,” the mayor said. She added, “If we are to be successful, we must all work together.”

The collaborative effort between the Baltimore City Police Department and Johns Hopkins will start with six projects identified by police and the JHU researchers:

-Identifying and removing illegal guns: Police will identify those who possess guns illegally, conduct searches to recover them and identify suppliers of guns to criminals.

-B-Fed: The collaborative will evaluate the B-Fed Homicide Reduction Task Force and “war room” approaches to confronting the city’s violent criminals.

-Further develop the city’s Foot Patrol Initiative

-An assessment will be done on police recruitment

-Initiate district commander summits:  Bring all nine district commanders together to improve policing and community policing efforts

-Improve the reward system for crime tips. “Baltimore has one of the smallest citizen reward systems among major U.S. cities,” Commissioner Davis said.

Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and one of the nation’s leading experts on firearm policy and prevention of gun violence, will bring research and assessment expertise to the collaborative.

“I’m very committed to helping Baltimore develop and implement the most effective approaches to reducing violence through better policing, prevention programs and better policies,” he told the AFRO in an exclusive interview, discussing his vision for the cooperative effort. “My colleagues and I and Johns Hopkins will apply the most rigorous science and effective training methods in support of the Baltimore Police Department, enhancing its ability to reduce violence and build trust with the communities they police.”

The city-university collaborative received initial funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ($250,000) and the Abell Foundation ($250,000) for the current year. Annie E. Casey has committed another $250,000 for 2017.

The initiative plans to keep the community at the center of its efforts, leaders said.

“Several projects that the collaborative will undertake relate directly to improving police-community interactions and relations.  We expect engagement with the public will occur in a variety of ways, including having a community representative participate in the collaborative meetings” Webster said.