Baltimore, MD - June 6, 2023 - In Baltimore's ongoing budget hearings, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE) faced extensive questioning from City Council members, primarily concerning the sustainability of its programs. Outgoing MONSE executive director, Shantay Jackson, discussed the agency's expanding payroll, long-term funding plans, and the future of MONSE after her departure.

Concerns were raised about the sustainability of positions funded through the American Rescue Plan Act, which will run out at the end of 2025. There were also concerns about the impact and growth of the Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) and Safe Streets programs. GVRS aims to reduce group or gang violence by offering alternative paths, while Safe Streets, the city's primary gun-violence prevention program, is managed by two non-profit organizations.

The efficacy, transparency, and accountability of Safe Streets have been questioned. MONSE plans to transition from annual contracts to multi-year contracts for the program. After the hearing, Jackson did not address questions about these contracts or concerns about the program's effectiveness.

Jackson's departure is planned for the end of June, with an interim director expected to be appointed soon. A permanent director is anticipated within 60 days. Despite the three-hour hearing, Councilman Eric Costello said it's too early to determine if the council will adjust the budget. The final budget must be approved by June 26, 2023.... Read More: FOX45