Re: Violence Intervention and Prevention Programs (VIPP) Funding

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May 5, 2020

The Honorable Lawrence J. Hogan
Governor
State of Maryland
State House
Annapolis, MD 21401

Re: Violence Intervention and Prevention Programs (VIPP) Funding

Governor Hogan,

Thank you for your strong leadership in response to the COVID-19 crisis in our state. We appreciate your actions to prevent the spread of the virus and save lives. At the same time, gun violence continues to plague our communities and destroy lives. As you’ve publicly recognized, community-based violence reduction strategies like Baltimore’s Safe Streets program and Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs (HVIPs), are an essential part of the solution. During this time of crisis, violence intervention teams are working around the clock to both keep the peace and prevent the spread of coronavirus in some of Maryland’s most vulnerable communities. We know your administration is facing difficult budgetary decisions, but it is vital that we protect our communities by supporting proven public health approaches to reducing violence.

We urge you to sign SB 708 and release critical funds to support Baltimore’s Safe Streets program and the statewide Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (VIPP) The MD VIPP is specifically designed to support the continuation and expansion of evidence-based public health strategies to address the epidemic of violence. The current COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need for more robust public health strategies to effectively address public health crises in our communities, including violence. You’ve publicly recognized the merits of life-saving local programs like Safe Streets and hospital-based intervention programs. SB 708 is an update to programing that you signed into law two years ago. Now it’s more important than ever that we adequately fund these programs.

While overall crime may be down in cities like Baltimore, gun violence continues to devastate Maryland families and communities during this crisis. In addition to spreading anti-violence messages, the staff and volunteers of local violence intervention programs are trusted messengers, communicating public health information about the virus, encouraging social distancing, and connecting those at the greatest risk of both violence and COVID-19 to critical resources. They perform a role that cannot easily be replicated by more traditional public health sources.

Safe Streets Baltimore, one of the programs previously funded by the MD VIPP Fund, has been proven to reduce violence when properly resourced. Since Mayor Young declared a state of emergency in Baltimore City on March 18th, Safe Streets alone has:

  • Mediated 248 potentially violent conflicts
  • Hosted 56 socially distanced resource giveaways of food, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, diapers and formula, etc.
  • Continued to work individually with 17 high-risk participants to provide case management and support

Safe Streets is just one example of the critical work being done by violence prevention and intervention programs in communities across Maryland. Every day you delay in signing SB 708 and releasing the funds to violence prevention and intervention programs is one more day of preventable deaths and trauma in our most vulnerable communities. Gun violence in America is an epidemic, and Maryland is not immune. However, we have evidence-based strategies that will mitigate this crisis. Local violence interruption programs are a proven and cost-effective approach to reducing violence and saving lives. Please help us protect our most vulnerable neighbors by signing SB 708.

Sincerely,
Advocates for Children and Youth
Baltimore Child Abuse Center
Baltimore Police Department
Baltimore Women United
Brady: United Against Gun Violence
Brady: United Against Gun Violence, Maryland
Child First Authority
Cities United
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Community Justice Action Fund
Consulting Anthropologists
Critical Issues Forum
Cure Violence Global
Daniel Webster, Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research
Equal Justice USA
Everytown for Gun Safety
Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County
Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence
The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (HAVI)
Interfaith Action for Human Rights
Jews United for Justice
John King, MPGV board member and the 10th U.S. Secretary of Education (Obama Administration)
Kent County Citizens to Prevent Gun Violence
Kevin L. Cooper Foundation
Ladd Everitt
March For Our Lives MD
Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence
National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform
National Network for Safe Communities
Newtown Action Alliance
Prevent Gun Violence Ministry of River Road UUC
Rebuild, Overcome and Rise (ROAR) Center at UMB
Reproductive Justice Inside
ROCA Baltimore
Thomas Abt, Senior Fellow, Council on Criminal Justice
Transformative Research and Applied Violence Intervention Lab (TRAVAIL at UMCP)
Urban Peace Institute
Woodie Kessel, MD, MPH; Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS, (Ret)


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