Countering Violence Through Public Health Initiatives

County Health Officers share public health initiatives targeted at stemming violence and its side effects.

At the MACo Winter Conference Session, Crime and Violence Through a Public Health Lens, attendees learned about the pivotal role public health practitioners play in preventing and repairing the impact of violence on a community.

Pamela Brown-Creekmur, Health Officer, Prince George's County
Pamela Brown-Creekmur, Health Officer, Prince George’s County

Pamela Brown-Creekmur, Health Officer for Prince George’s County, began by presenting on the county’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI). This initiative targets governmental resources at six neighborhoods with significant economic, health, public safety and educational challenges. Launched in 2011, TNI has 22 participating agencies and each neighborhood has a team of officials that work with the communities to identify and address their issues. The teams measure their impacts through certain indicators: violent crime, property crime, 3rd grade and 5th grade reading and math scores, school absentee rates, foreclosure rates, concentrations of Section 8 housing, income levels, pedestrian deaths/injuries and residents on public assistance. Brown-Creekmur also discussed the county’s Safe Streets program, launched in 2015 and modeled after the Baltimore City program, which provides grassroots violence prevention by mediating conflicts before violence occurs.

Rodney Glotfelty, Health Officer, Garrett County
Rodney Glotfelty, Health Officer, Garrett County

Rodney Glotfelty, Health Officer for Garrett County, presented on the county’s Early Home Visitation Program. Providing comprehensive data on child abuse and neglect including that its effects costs approximately $320 million a day nationwide, Glotfelty stressed the need for early intervention and prevention. The county’s Nurse Family Partnership has seen success improving women’s prenatal health and improving childhood health and development. For instance the county saw a 79% percent reduction in preterm delivery for women who smoke and a 59% reduction in arrests of kids under the age of 15. They also saw a 48% reduction in childhood abuse and neglect. Glotfelty also presented on the county’s Early Care System of Care. The program has generated successful results for families that participate, but has been reduced in recent years due to a loss of federal funding.

Larry Polsky, Health Officer, Calvert County; Delegate Clarence Lam
Larry Polsky, Health Officer, Calvert County; Delegate Clarence Lam

Finally, Larry Polsky, Health Officer for Calvert County, presented on the effects of domestic violence and the programs Calvert County. Polsky set the stage by provided startling statistics on the pervasiveness of domestic violence including that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of intimate partner violence during their lifetime, and that intimate partner abuse occurs once every 3 seconds in the U.S. Polsky then highlighted numerous programs through the Calvert County health department and collaborative efforts with other county agencies to prevent and provide support to victims of intimate partner violence. These include a Family Violence Council, Crisis Intervention Center, Calvert’s Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Center, and a Healthy Relationship Program in county middle and high schools. While Calvert County is relatively small, with a population of 89,000, the Crisis Intervention Center receives an average of 12 calls a day and the Domestic Violence Center had 4,642 bed nights in FY 15.

The session was moderated by Delegate Clarence Lam, who represents District 12, Baltimore and Howard Counties and serves on the House Environment and Transportation Committee. The session was held from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm on Thursday, December 10, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland.

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