Mayor Scott Announces Expanded Victim Services in Baltimore
Friday Aug 12th, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For the First Time in City Government, Victim Services to Expand to Gunshot Victims
BALTIMORE, MD. (Friday, August 12, 2022) -Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced his vision for the first-ever expansion of Victim Services in Baltimore. The interagency coordination efforts associated with victim services led by the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE) are in direct alignment with the Mayor’s Comprehensive Violence Prevention Plan’s emphasis on a public health approach to safety.
In January 2022, under Mayor Scott’s direction, MONSE established a dedicated Victim Services lane, a first for the City. Working in close coordination with the Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore City State Attorney’s Office units dedicated to victim services, MONSE’s Victim Services lane will intentionally fill the gaps that exist in serving victims and survivors who have not been traditionally served at the local level before.
"Victim services must be a priority in Baltimore’s public safety strategy because we know that every shooting or violent incident leaves behind a web of trauma – for the victim, as well as bystanders, families, neighbors, and even the perpetrators of violence," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. "From MONSE to BPD, my agencies are laser focused on conducting victim services better, and more meaningfully, than ever before. This is about breaking cycles of violence by ensuring that all residents have the resources they need to heal from experiences of victimization."
For the first time, Mayor Scott has prioritized investing in services for victims of gun violence and other violent crimes. Crisis response, advocacy, therapy, wraparound services, and community awareness are crucial components of addressing trauma and ultimately preventing revictimization. MONSE will serve as a central point of contact to make referrals to resources and facilitate access to wrap-around services that promote the well-being of an individual’s physical, mental and emotional health.
Additionally, MONSE will employ a broadened definition of "victim," recognizing that the City must address the deep traumatization of residents who have broadly been impacted by violence. This definition includes everyone from the direct victim of violence to witnesses, friends, and family of that individual.
"Under Mayor Scott’s leadership, Baltimore is finally taking a ‘both-and approach’ to victim services. The partnership between the Mayor’s law enforcement agency and public safety agency - through the lens of public health - is crucial in ensuring that Baltimoreans who have experienced victimization receive the investment and services they deserve and need to thrive," said Director Shantay Jackson of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. "MONSE is honored to lead this work and will continue to ensure that it accounts for the village as a whole, from the direct victim of violence to witnesses, friends, and the family."
As the City’s law enforcement agency, BPD is also investing in victim services in ways Baltimore has never seen before. Over the past year, BPD has built up its Victim Services Unit, expanded the scope of their work, and taken steps to bring this work closer to the day-to-day operations of the Department.
The Scott Administration’s investment in and focus on victim services is connected to the necessary work of Reimagining Policing, the development of a Community Violence Intervention (CVI) ecosystem, the build-out of a victim services portfolio within MONSE, and the continued reformation process required by the Consent Decree.
"The Baltimore Police Department is committed to working with Mayor Scott, MONSE, city agencies and external partners in order to expand the services provided by the Victim Services Team, as well as developing strategies for increased collaboration with the community," said Commissioner Michael Harrison. "As part of our community policing plan and GVRS activities, the BPD is intent on increasing the focus and resources in providing trauma-informed services to victims of crime and rebuilding public trust with the communities we serve."
Finally, MONSE’s Victim Services lane will play an active role in developing the wraparound service model associated with the CVI ecosystem. In February 2022, Mayor Scott and MONSE convened chief medical officers from area hospitals to discuss the vision for hospital-based responder programs as part of Baltimore’s CVI landscape. The public safety agency is in the process of finalizing official partnerships with area hospitals that treat gunshot victims to ensure a coordinated hospital-based violence intervention and victim services network.
MONSE plans to provide funding for these operations at the start of FY23, beginning July 1, 2022. MONSE has also secured funding to provide training to all Baltimore-area hospital systems that regularly treat gunshot victims. Training will be provided by the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (HAVI) to ensure a common set of standards and spirit of collaboration across all partners.
Members of the public can read the National Public Safety Partnership's Victim Services Capacity Assessment report, an executive summary of BPD and MONSE's joint efforts to date, and BPD's response in full on BPD's Resources and Reports page under the "Victim Services Assessment Report" tab.