Public Safety Plan

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 Blueprint for Fighting Crime

Proven Strategies to Make Our Communities Safe


Introduction

We lost 344 of our neighbors to violence last year.  It began with Leon Flemming, a 38-year-old man found shot in the head in Northeast Baltimore mere minutes into the year; it ended with Jameel Woodard, a 37-year-old man killed not far from an elementary school in West Baltimore.  In between, mothers, sons, fathers, and daughters were violently and prematurely taken from their loved ones and our City.  They ranged in age from 68 to just 9 days old. 

Some of the victims had contributed in life to the violence that has marred our Baltimore. Some had struggled as children, failed by a system that focused on treating them as criminals instead of as humans.  Some had lost faith in the police's ability to protect them.  And some had fought back against gang violence only to fall victim to it themselves. 

None of them deserved to die. All deserved more from our City. 

Last year, the number of murders in Baltimore rose more than 60 percent, and the number of non-fatal shootings surged by more than 70 percent. Baltimore is, once again, one of the most violent cities in America. This is a tragedy but also a truth. And that truth, we all must fight to change. 

We must move to a different strategy, one that replaces a high arrest policy that burdens entire communities with best practices and proven approaches to target the most dangerous people and places that drive the violence on our streets.  We need to rebuild the community’s trust in the responsibility of the police to protect and serve us all.  We need to bring an end, at long last, to the misguided and inhumane war on drugs that has criminalized rather than treated addiction, and led to the mass incarceration of Baltimore citizens, fueling for too long the break-up of families and the erosion of entire neighborhoods.  We need to provide a network of support for at-risk juveniles while they are young so they do not commit acts of violence once they are older.  And we need to offer an open hand to ex-offenders when they leave prison so they do not revert once again to a life of crime. 

This is my blueprint for reducing crime in Baltimore.  It arises out of my experiences and my record of achievement as a leader fighting crime and pursuing justice in Baltimore.  When I was Deputy State’s Attorney, we oversaw one of the most dramatic reductions in violent crime in the history of Baltimore.  We brought homicides to under 200 for the first time in over 30 years, and reduced violent crimes to their lowest levels in nearly 40 years.  We worked together, prosecutors and police, community activists and neighborhood leaders, to bring the engines of violence to justice, producing a surge in the conviction rates for felony crimes.  And, at the same time, we cut arrests in half and diverted thousands of victims of addiction and poverty to the resources and services they so desperately needed, rather than simply throwing them in prison. 

This blueprint is only one part of my plan to turn around the City.  In the weeks to come, I will also release detailed strategies for other challenges facing the City, including jobs, education and housing, to name only a few.  Indeed, these challenges are interwoven.  For we will not be able to put an end to the cycles of violence and crime in our City if we do not forge pathways out of poverty in the poorest, highest crime neighborhoods; if we do not find solutions to our underperforming schools; if we do not address the lack of affordable housing and the scourge of vacant homes.

We can get at these problems.  But doing so requires a strong and effective leader with a proven track record of leadership and achievement, one who understands the real complexities of the challenges we face and has shown the ability to bring people together to solve problems and make progress – not in politics, but on our streets and in our neighborhoods.

I invite all of you to read this and the blueprints to come, and reach out to me at elizabeth@embryforbaltimore.org with your comments and thoughts.  For it will take all of us, working together as a community, to make Baltimore the safe, just, healthy, and prosperous City we all want, need, and deserve.


Executive Summary 

Last year, the number of murders in Baltimore rose more than 60 percent, and the number of non-fatal shootings surged by more than 70 percent.  Baltimore is, once again, one of the most violent cities in America.  This is a tragedy but also a truth.  And that truth, we all must fight to change. 

This blueprint for reducing crime in Baltimore is born of a career that Elizabeth Embry has spent as a leader fighting crime and pursuing justice in Baltimore.  As Deputy State’s Attorney, she worked with prosecutors and police, community activists and neighborhood leaders to oversee one of the most dramatic reductions in violent crime in the history of Baltimore.  As Mayor, Elizabeth will build on this experience and proven record of success to make our communities safe again.


To end the bloodshed on our streets, Elizabeth will:

  • Lead a district-by-district strategy that targets the individuals and gangs who are the worst engines of violence.
  • Deploy specialized, geographic-based strategies that work with communities to target the hubs of violence.
  • Revitalize the CeaseFire program.
  • Expand the Safe Streets program.
  • Get guns carried illegally off our streets.
  • Target sexual and domestic violence.
  • Implement a formal parole call-in initiative.
  • Bring competence to our use of technology.
  • Create a culture of accountability and transparency. 


To rebuild trust between our communities and law enforcement, Elizabeth will:

  • Mandate body cameras for all police officers.
  • Recruit a police force that is of Baltimore.
  • Change how we investigate allegations of police misconduct.
  • Revive the Civilian Review Board.
  • Reform the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.
  • Provide the right incentives and training for smart policing.
  • Expand service benefits to officers.


To end the war on drugs, Elizabeth will:

  • Rewrite the criminal justice playbook to divert drug offenders to treatment and rehabilitation instead of central booking and prison.
  • End arrests for simple possession of marijuana.
  • End the cash bail system.
  • Invest in specialized programs for mental health, sex work, veterans and the homeless.
  • Make drug treatment more readily available.


To reform our approach to juvenile crime, Elizabeth will:

  • Invest in wrap-around services for at-risk youth.
  • Advocate for better educational services in juvenile facilities.
  • Expand our use of restorative justice programs.
  • Open recreational and educational centers and increase after-school and summer opportunities.


To close the revolving door of crime, Elizabeth will:

  • Press for the automatic expungement of criminal records.
  • Expand the Public Safety Compact model.
  • Invest in transitional housing and services.
  • Deepen partnerships with stakeholders to help ex-offenders obtain jobs.
  • Eliminate parole and probation supervision fees.
  • Resolve outstanding warrants for low level misdemeanors.