A program called Safe Streets enlists former convicts to battle neighborhood violence. Such programs are winning plaudits from police, mayors and the Justice Department, reports USA Today. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says the Baltimore program gets some of the credit for a 56 percent reduction in homicides in the Cherry Hill neighborhood in 2009 and 2010. The programs are modeled after CeaseFire in Chicago.
Staffers scope out potential violence by being observant and keeping up with gossip. When they learn about a conflict brewing, they approach the people involved, get them talking, and steer them toward turnaround opportunities such as school or jobs. “The reason we have the ability to do what we do is we have the respect of the people on the streets,” says Gardnel Carter, 50, director of Safe Streets East, one of two Safe Streets branches in Baltimore. “The police department thinks Safe Streets works,” says the department’s Anthony Guglielmi. Last year, gun-related homicides in Baltimore were down 13 percent from 2000.