Dear Mayor Pugh,
I am writing this letter to express my support for the Inner Harbor Project to be the recipient of city funds.
When they launched their Peace Ambassador program in August 2014, there was an immediate decline of 86% in arrests of teens in the Inner Harbor. The model has been effective at reducing juvenile arrests in the Inner Harbor by 65% in total over the past five years. In addition to being more effective at reducing youth violence than arrests, store bans, and curfews, the Peace Ambassador program is also significantly less costly than off-duty police officers on overtime. A single police officer costs the city $140,000- $160,000 per year, while a Peace Ambassador costs only $10,000 for the same time period, including all overhead and support services. The Peace Ambassador program is a rare example of true community policing; Peace Ambassadors do not just augment the work of police, but also provide a bridge for police to reach the teen community.
Peace Ambassadors' scope has been started in to the Inner Harbor, Downtown and Federal Hill to date, and is poised to expand to other Baltimore neighborhoods. The Inner Harbor Project’s model is both innovative and effective, and it can expand its reach with city support. Funding a youth-led effort signifies the mayor’s investment in community-led and youth-led measures to reduce youth violence.
Private grants and corporate contributions have funded the Inner Harbor Project in the five years since its founding, but these funding sources cannot sustain the necessary level of rigor and daily work toward violence intervention without sustained support from the city. I support funding the Inner Harbor Project with $300,000 to support and expand their Peace Ambassador program. This initiative fills a void in youth crime prevention by tackling the difficult and crucial work of building relationships between the community, police, and youth.