GBC steps up to support city’s ‘ground level’ anti-violence program

Don Fry presents GBC contribution to Safe Streets initiative. From left, Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld III. Mayor Sheila Dixon, City Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, and Fry.Greater Baltimore Committee President & CEO Donald C. Fry Aug. 13 presented Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon with a $100,000 contribution from the GBC to help fund an expansion of the city’s new neighborhood-based anti-violence program.

Participating in a City Hall news conference, Fry gave Dixon the contribution as the first installment of a $500,000 pledge the GBC has made to help expand Operation Safe Streets. The fledgling program has been a major factor in the more than 30 percent reduction in violent crime the city has experienced so far in 2008, city officials say.

Mayor Dixon is seeking $2 million to enable the Safe Streets initiative to expand to northeast Baltimore, Cherry Hill, and southwest Baltimore.  Dixon has contributed $1 million in city funds and is seeking $1 million from foundations and the private sector.

Safe Streets, a program managed by the Baltimore City Health Department, “gives us a compelling, ground-level strategy that communities can enthusiastically support” to reduce violent crime in the city, said Fry. A central element of the Safe Streets strategy is to place ex-offender “mediators” in violence-prone neighborhoods to resolve disputes that, without mediation, would often lead to violence.

For more information on Operation Safe Streets.