The Mayor outlines the project in an offical press release:
OSS is based on the highly successful CeaseFire model developed at the University of Illinois School of Public Health in Chicago. CeaseFire works with community-based organizations to develop and implement strategies to reduce and prevent violence, particularly shootings and killings. The model relies on outreach workers, faith leaders, and other community leaders to intervene in conflicts, or potential conflicts, and promote alternatives to violence. Along with cooperation from police, CeaseFire includes a strong public education campaign to provide the message that shootings and violence are not acceptable.
CeaseFire also is premised upon the strengthening of communities so they have the capacity to exercise informal social control and respond to issues that affect them. Since its launch in 2000, Ceasefire has been successfully operating in 15 of Chicago's high-crime neighborhoods. With the collaboration of community groups, outreach teams, law enforcement and clergy, communities experienced reductions in shootings up to 68% in the first year of implementation.
At least this program has seen proven results in high crime, urban communities. I am anxious to see how it does in Baltimore, and to what neighborhoods and organizations the federal grant is going. The PDF above lists March 19th as the date for award announcement, but I can't seem to find it online. If anyone has any info about what neighborhoods got the awards, drop me a line.
It appears that at least one neighborhood, Cherry Hill, has applied.
While this is a novel approach to crime, one that should be encouraged should it work here, I wonder whether it is enough. Once a drug market or a gang is pushed from one neighborhood, they will simply move the next. If OSS is successful, it will hopefully receive more funding to branch out around the city.
What is also troubling about the program is that in does not explicitly include funds to deal with local drug addiction or drug markets. Not only should violence be discouraged, but the community should be enabled to help those in their neighborhood they know are suffering from addiction. The program is otherwise holistic, and for this it should be praised.
As Mayor, Martin O'Malley adopted the zero-tolerance polices of "America's mayor". Its nice to see Mayor Dixon taking something more positive from the Mayors of Chicago and Philadelphia.