The Democratic primary for Mayor of the City of Baltimore is just a few months away, and today Sheila Dixon released a four-point plan to address the violence and crime that has overcome Baltimore.  Last year was Baltimore’s deadliest year ever recorded on a per-capita basis.

“I believe the number one job of the mayor is to make the city of Baltimore safer for everyone,” Dixon said in a letter introducing the plan. “This has been a year of profound hardship for our city. With the painful loss of Freddie Gray, the entrenched conflicts that his death brought to the surface, and the horrifying spike in violence that followed, we all strive to find words of healing and actions to match. But that takes leadership, and that is what I’m offering the citizens of this city.”

Dixon’s call for action includes the following steps:

  1. Target resources on stopping the city’s most violent offenders before crimes occur
  2. Commit to the highest standards and accountability for police and law enforcement
  3. Coordinate all city agencies in a holistic approach to upholding public safety and health
  4. Work with community, business and faith leaders to implement a community policing strategy that keeps Baltimoreans healthier and safer

“Stopping and preventing violent crime can and must be done now,” said Dixon. “The future of Baltimore depends on it. As mayor, I pledge to be a change agent to restore Baltimore so that it once again is viewed as a safe and inviting city for all.”

Details of Dixon’s plan from her press release:

ONE:  RECLAIM communities by FIRST and foremost, stopping the gun violence and killing through targeted enforcement. 

  • Prioritizing efforts on apprehending and stopping gun offenders, the most violent offenders, from committing violent crimes before they happen.
  • Use the power of data to direct our efforts, bringing together law enforcement, prosecutors, parole, probation, corrections, as well as our partners at the state and federal level to identify offenders and prevent crimes before they happen.
  • Officers on the ground will understand the core elements of their work that help them prevent crimes before they happen, utilizing smart phone and mobile technology to provide them with real-time updates on violent offenders.
  • Prosecutors can work with community and law enforcement to identify priority prosecutions that will have the biggest impact on helping communities.
  • De-emphasize arrest as a primary means to resolving non-violent crime, enabling officers and prosecutors to focus on apprehending the most violent offenders.
  • Leverage resources of state and federal agencies to help city forces fight crime.

SECOND: REBUILD our public safety department and invest in officers – committing ourselves to the highest standards of professional development and public service.

  • Overhaul the police academy, understanding that what we expect from our police officers is engagement, partnership, assistance and respect.
  • Every officer will be trained or retrained to de-escalate situations, recognize and eliminate racial bias, and engage in respectful community interaction.
  • Strengthen the city’s independent civilian oversight board by providing funding for professional staff and empowering it to take complaints not just in the form of formally filed complaints, but by phone calls, personal testimony, emails and cell phone footage.
  • Work with the police union to find solutions to the problems we face, offering continuous mental health and supportive counseling to officers, and recognizing that our officers are decent men and women doing a tough job. We cannot afford to have them demoralized, undercutting their effectiveness and engagement.
  • Promote officers that demonstrate involvement in the community to leadership positions and recruit more officers from the local community to join the police force.

THIRD: REVIVE the vigor and efficacy of city government by coordinating all our agencies to focus on the safety, health and security of Baltimore residents.

  • Under coordinated leadership within City Hall, dedicated staff will work with the leaders of police, fire, health and emergency management to strategically focus resources and build partnerships to focus on public safety, and just as importantly, public health.
  • Expand the use of hospital emergency departments to counsel and connect trauma victims to services and assistance, using models proven to reduce repeat injuries.
  • Equip every school with in-house health centers, mental health services, and mentoring and tutoring services to reduce youth and gang violence.
  • Structure services for substance use disorders and mental illness to provide individuals with volunteer and job opportunities that will help them live independently, work, and contribute to our city.
  • Partner with local businesses and faith communities to provide job opportunities and volunteer opportunities to identified at-risk individuals in real time.

FOURTH and most critical: RECLAIM the public trust by redefining community policing and how we partner together for safer, healthier neighborhoods.

  • Implement a community policing strategy that is about more than police getting out of squad cars. By incorporating the ideas outlined below, patrol officers gain channels they can use to prevent crime, protect communities, and keep kids on the right track.
  • Law enforcement will work with communities to set the standards for policing in their neighborhood, which will help prevent break-ins, property destruction and other crimes that undermine the quality of life in our city.
  • Commit capital resources to rebuild police facilities with more community spaces.
  • Engage members of the community not just at community meetings, but by also reaching out to people who cannot attend local meetings.
  • Advertise existing city services to communities that need them.
  • Expand summer and other job opportunity programs to set the foundation for future job opportunities for our city’s youth.
  • Work with the community and law enforcement to expand diversion and restorative justice programs for minor offenders, including in our schools, rather than relying on jail time or school expulsion.
  • All the elements of our government must be configured to assist in the most fundamental element of our human existence: the need to be healthy, safe and secure.

Susan Gerardo Dunn is the founding editor and publisher of Baltimore Fishbowl.