Press Coverage

Cities United held convention to discuss redeveloping public safety

January 2023

FROM News 2 WMAR in Baltimore

BALTIMORE — Friday, Cities United wrapped up their annual convention alongside Baltimore City leaders and other mayors and organizations around the country.

The mission was all about tackling violent crime and homicides in Baltimore and other cities across the country facing the same issues.

Redeveloping public safety was part of the topic of this year’s Cities United Convention with over 500 people in attendance.

Cities United Executive Director Anthony Smith said everyone at the conference was brainstorming and discussing the same things, proven ways of minimizing violent crime and homicides in our communities.

“We come in and help cities build out a comprehensive public safety plan. The work is really around how do you create this ecosystem and how do you create an interconnected system that not only interrupts the cycle of violence, but also create better outcomes,” Smith said.

Smith said by cities creating an ecosystem that utilizes various mediums, including city leaders working alongside organizations like cure violence and safe streets to name a few, those investments really help reach those who are at risk of being involved in violence.

“This is a new investment and I think people want to see something tomorrow, which we all do, we don’t want to see people dying in our streets, but I think when you’re building up a new system it takes time. Give it 12 to 24 months to see if it’s working, but also hold them accountable and say the things that are not working. We don’t need to do anymore but if it’s working keep that in play,” Smith said.

WMAR-2 News' Brittney Verner asked Smith what have been some similarities when it comes to cities facing issues with violent crime and homicides?

“I think the similarities is that we’re talking about young Black and brown families and communities that have been historically under invested in and historically hit with bad policies. If you truly want to make sure that young people in communities are safe healthy and hopeful, then you’ve got to invest in that,” Smith said.

“When you think about Baltimore Mayor Scott seeing a $50 million investment it’s a big deal and I think people don’t understand how big of an investment that is compared to where it was. He took it from zero, almost $0 dollars, to $50 million, that can make a huge impact,” Smith said.

So big of an impact other mayors attending this year’s convention are looking to model the public safety plan that’s being implemented in Baltimore.

“Now that we heard from city after city after city, they want to model the work that we’re doing here. I’m just excited to see that work happening across the country as we really change the narrative about what public safety means in America," one person said.

“So what we’re trying to get cities to do when we talk about building up their community violence ecosystem, it includes organizations like Safe Streets includes organizations like Catholic charities who are supporting those folks, because those are the things that really helps cities build on a new motto of public safety,” Smith said.