Health Department Awarded Grant to Expand Violence Intervention Program

October 5, 2023

The St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD) has been awarded funding through the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services to support violence prevention in partnership with the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office (SMCSO).

Funding from the $318,901 grant will expand the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) recently established by SMCSO and SMCHD with support from the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County. The GVI works to reduce homicide and gun violence, minimize collateral harm to communities, and foster stronger relationships between law enforcement, health and human services, and community members.

SMCSO and SMCHD have been partnering with community leaders, local community organizations, and human/social service providers to convey anti-violence messages and intervene in communities to help reduce violent crimes. The GVI is a national model that receives guidance from the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College.

“By partnering with the Sheriff’s Office and community leaders, we hope to address the complex public health and public safety issue of violence in our county,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer. “I’m grateful to our health department team members, including Angela Cochran and Michelle Pottinger, for their stellar leadership in these efforts and in securing funds to expand upon the work we’ve recently established.”

St. Mary’s County Sheriff Steve Hall said, “This Gun Violence Intervention program is critically important to our community in that it facilitates direct contact with perpetrators and victims: it’s a way to save lives and change mindsets through intervention. The rapport and relationships we are building will have a generational impact that leaves an indelible mark of positive change.”