Safe Streets program of dubious value [Letter]

December 05, 2013

The Baltimore Safe Streets program has taken another hit with the arrest of one of its mediators on federal drug and gun violations ("Drug, gun suspect worked for Safe Streets program," Dec. 3). His job in the well-meaning but naive gun violence suppression program was to curtail gun violence by reaching out to the criminals in the targeted community and gain their trust.

And why was this believed to be a workable solution to curtain gun violence? It was believed that because the mediator was one of them or used to be one of them, he could somehow get the gun thugs to change the way they operated in the community. Perhaps they would give up settling disagreements with a gun or using gun violence to further their criminal enterprises — maybe substituting a knife or a slap for a gun.

The touted success of this program by its supporters in the areas it operates is questionable since it assumes Safe Streets is responsible for any improvement and not to any other gun violence suppression initiative by the Baltimore Police Department. One sure way to determine if Safe Streets can carry water is to produce data based on interviews with the "bad guys with guns" and ask them if they are settling disagreements with words and not guns and if they really give a hoot if some former con preaches the straight and narrow.

Jim Giza, Baltimore

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