A study conducted by local activist Ray Kelly found that the majority of Baltimore residents interviewed do not agree with defunding the police but do want the city to prioritize funding for public schools in poor areas to combat rising rates of violent crime, Lea Skene reports for the Baltimore Sun.
How was the study conducted?
The Citizens Policing Project—a civilian police oversight advocacy group co-founded by Kelly in 2018—designed the study to engage those Baltimoreans most impacted by police activity, poverty and violent crime. Young people working for the West Baltimore-based organization interviewed over 1,000 people over several months in 2021, they asked open-ended questions about public safety, personal experience with police, and attitudes toward police and suggested solutions.
The organization published the findings in a report authored by Kelly, titled “The Long Game.” In the report, Kelly wrote that when asked about public safety, “The immediate reaction … usually was to emphasize how violent and dangerous our streets are.” Respondents also expressed support for increasing funding to schools, particularly public schools in poor areas, as well as additional spending on poverty relief through programs offering mental health and addiction treatment, affordable housing, and job creation. Kelly wrote that by allocating more money to develop social programs and improve schools, violent crime could decline, and the city could eventually decrease its police budget safely.
Anything else I should know?
Mayor Brandon Scott responded to the study’s findings by pointing to his proposed 2023 budget, which includes an additional $65 million for schools. Data from the Vera Institute of Justice shows that Baltimore spends more on police per capita than any other large American city, and Scott’s budget will increase that spending by $5 million if approved.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Reporting for this story was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and we thank them for their support. However, the findings and conclusions presented in this article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Foundation.