BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A northeast Baltimore neighborhood is celebrating an entire year without any homicides.
The homicide rate is up in Baltimore City, but in the Belair-Edison neighborhood, not a single life was lost to violence this year.READ MORE: Hogan Extends Open Enrollment On Maryland Health Connection, Pledges Boosts In Health And Human Services Spending
Safe Streets director Dante Johnson said that’s a drop from the seven lives lost the year before.
“These guys down here their friends were dying the year before last,” Johnson said. “Seven incidents that resulted in a loss of human life. Seven families affected. Seven times this community was sad.”
Many members of the community attribute the drop in violence in part to Safe Streets, an evidence-based violence prevention and interruption organization.
A team of seven Safe Streets members walk through high-traffic, high-crime areas to offer a listening ear when conflicts arise.READ MORE: 1 Charged With Arson In Reisterstown Apartment Fire, Authorities Say
Members of Safe Streets are trained in mediation, counseling and mentorship. These violence interrupters have spent the last year deescalating violence and working to recruit troubled teens to be a part of the program.
But as Belair-Edison celebrates this milestone, the rest of Baltimore continues to see a rise in homicides and shootings.
“The celebration is bitter sweet,” says Johnson. “Of course we care about the whole city, but we celebrate this community at this time.”
Rita Crews, a community member of 30 years, says programs like this are a light in the darkness.
“I feel hopeful,” Crews said. “I really feel hopeful, I feel, because we have Safe Streets and mentoring programs and other activities. I think this will give all of them a chance.MORE NEWS: Councilman Mark Conway Announces Hearing On GTTF Report
The Safe Streets group canvasses about 15 blocks daily. They say they believe in the Mayor’s crime plan and they work closely with the Mayors Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.