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Questions raised about weapons policies for Safe Streets mediations

Questions raised about weapons policies for Safe Streets mediations

After the City Council held an oversight hearing into the hiring practices of Safe Streets, more questions arose about how employees handle guns that are found while the violence interrupters are doing their work.

The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, led by Stefanie Mavronis, was brought before the Baltimore City Council Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee Thursday night. The hearing was called at the direction of City Council President Nick Mosby who wanted to learn more details about how employees are vetted, what the onboarding process looks like, and what happens during mediations.

Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, chair of the committee, pressed MONSE leaders about what happens when weapons are found during mediations, to learn law enforcement is not notified or involved at all.

“They simply diffuse the situation on the spot and let everyone go on their way. That is certainly very concerning,” Schleifer said. “When we have tens of millions of dollars going to an entity that is telling us that they are not willing to be part of removing guns from the streets of Baltimore.”

FOX45 News sent questions to the other members of the Baltimore City Council asking:

Do you believe it’s appropriate that these employees working for a taxpayer-funded program don’t report to law enforcement when there are weapons involved?

If yes, please explain why the city should continue to fund a program that isn’t alerting police when someone has a weapon.

In a statement to FOX45 News, City Council President Nick Mosby said the Mayor’s administration “detailed the hiring and vetting process used to onboard Safe Streets employees.”

“Members from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement also detailed the role of the program and communicated that Safe Street workers are not law enforcement or serve as confidential informants with law enforcement,” Mosby said via email. “We learned this is critical distinction and national best practice to maintain the trust and credibility in the communities they serve.”

Councilman Antonio Glover said Safe Streets employees are working in the community interacting with people who are or who are suspected of having a gun and it’s part of Safe Streets effort to change cultural norms.

“When staff encounters someone who is carrying a firearm – even outside of a conflict that they would mediate – their role is to convince that individual to put the firearm away in a secure location. While it is not the job of these violence interrupters to physically disarm individuals brandishing firearms in their communities, their training has allowed many of them to convince these individuals to put down their guns,” Glover said. “They are actively changing social norms around the acceptance of violence in Baltimore’s most violent communities, while making it clear that they are not law enforcement, and therefore limited in their training in the apprehension of guns in the community.”

“In all honesty, I would prefer to see Safe Streets under a proven grass roots community-based organization who feels the pulse of the community, because they are more in touch with what is happening in the community,” Glover continued.

Read the complete article here.

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