I want to offer an update on an initiative relating to policing - what has come to be called the 150 Percent Group. It is an update to “community policing,” but I don’t like to use community policing to describe what this group is doing because it is an entirely different approach.
The 150 Percent Group is a working group we have assembled, mainly funded through grants so that we aren’t tapping taxpayers for the added public safety capacity.
I think of this initiative as an opportunity for our City to do things differently.
The group consists of at least four members of the Annapolis Police. They are: Robert Horne, Bishop Carroll, Dannette Smikle and Castor Redondo. Erin Lee, our new social worker from the City Manager’s office; five members of the Mayor’s staff: Adetola Ajayi, Katy Edwards, Erica Griswold, Asia Wallace and Laura Gutierrez and two staff members of the Office of Emergency Management, MK Seborowski and Nicole Queen.
From Annapolis Police, Robert Horne has initiated a re-entry program that helps Annapolis residents with vocational training, drug treatment and job placement.
Essentially, they connect with individuals who are incarcerated just before they are set to be released. They’re looking at who is going to be coming back to the community. As part of the effort, they have signed on new stakeholders, businesses and individuals who can help.
Along with Bishop Carroll and Officer Smikle, they make arrangements for workforce development. Right now, at the beginning of 2021, they are helping to place individuals in HVAC training. They arrange transportation to get them to the training. They find companies willing to hire.
They are working with parole and probation to have an office in the police station so that individuals can have a nearby location to go to. This is especially important since transportation can not only be expensive, but public transportation can be time consuming.
Katy Edwards is handling our LEAD program. That stands for Let Everyone Advance with Dignity, a program funded by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. This program diverts individuals who risk falling into the criminal justice system for victimless or nonviolent crimes.
The program requires external buy-in from judges and the states attorney, among others, because to divert a person out of the criminal justice system and into substance use or mental health or other resource arenas, the judges and prosecutors need to agree with the plan.
Supervising the LEAD grant program and heading up our No Harm VIP violence intervention programs is Adetola “Tola” Ajayi. His team with Erica Griswold will work with individuals in communities to end the cycle of violence. Tola and the Office of Emergency Management team are also working on substance use, addiction and moving people into treatment.
Erin Lee is our new social worker in the City and her outreach involves connecting residents with services in the area for food, rental, clothing and financial assistance. In her short time here, she has created a database of charitable resources and helped find mental health resources. She has been connecting with other city outreach workers, like those from the Office of Emergency Management, to form a network of care.
Here’s how she recently worked with Laura Gutierrez, the Hispanic outreach liaison from the Mayor’s office. There was a family of 10 who spoke only Spanish. They needed assistance with food and baby supplies. Erin worked with Laura to ensure the family had what it needed.
When two Robinwood families were displaced due to fire, Erin assisted in getting the families settled in their new HACA unit, but also helping with school supplies, household items and donated clothing.
Erin’s long-term goal is to provide wraparound services to families in need.
Add to these, the outreach efforts of the Take Care team. In Annapolis, as in other places in America, COVID has hit the Hispanic and African American communities particularly hard. In 2020, with some limited grant funding through the CARES Act, the City sponsored teams to work on health outreach and resource delivery targeted to black and Hispanic residents.
Those efforts paid off. The Department of Health was sufficiently impressed and the team is continuing their work in 2021 with additional funding.
You can see why we are calling it the 150 Percent Group - because this is how much success everyone will have if they look to each other as a resource to answer community needs. This is truly a bottom-up approach to problem solving and to helping our residents lead richer, fuller lives.
Each member of this working group has the freedom to research new ideas and to take on new solutions as problems arise. The group meets with me once a month to provide updates on their progress, but they are in regular contact with one another in between those meetings.
I look forward to Annapolis being a model and I look forward to see the success of this group moving forward.