The mayor of Baltimore is floating a new tax-funded office aimed at helping keep black boys and young men away from a life of crime.
Mayor Catherine Pugh announced a new office, to be called the Office of African American Male Engagement, which she says will begin operations on February 12. It is modeled after a similar venture in Philadelphia, where it is called the Office of Black Male Engagement.
The mayor also said she has picked former city high school principal and mayoral candidate Andrey Bundley to helm the office.
“The reason the office is important is because too many black men are either the perpetrators of crime or victims of it,” Bundley said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “It is about saving lives.”
The paper went on to note that 1,220 black men have been murdered in Baltimore since 2013, which is 84 percent of the 1,449 murders during that period.
Despite its unveiling, Mayor Pugh did not reveal the costs involved with the new office.
The effort in Philadelphia helps train police officers and educators in “how to avoid letting their biases affect the way they perform their jobs,” the Sun reported.
At the press conference, Bundley claimed that the new Baltimore office will be staffed with “three millennials” and an employee “who knows the streets.” He also said he hoped to build off of other mentoring programs already operating at city hall as well as prison re-entry policies, sports programs, and church outreach efforts operating in Baltimore.
Bundley added that 186,000 black males in Baltimore need volunteers to serve as role models.
“The goal,” Bundley concluded, “is to ensure that any male in need of support gets it.”
Philadelphia’s Office of Black Male Engagement seems to have suffered from a lack of attention from the mayor’s office as priorities have flowed elsewhere since the office was founded in 2015, according to Generocity.org.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.