Safe Streets suspends Mondawmin site after outreach worker is indicted

Two Safe Streets workers arrested in one month

BALTIMORE - Safe Streets Baltimore announced today it has suspended street level activities at its Mondawmin site.

The Baltimore City Health Department says the suspension will remain in effect until further notice because of the "pending allegations of criminal activity by staff employed at the site."

Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Doctor Oxiris Barbot told reporters Wednesday afternoon she decided to suspend the operation at Mondawmin because of the second arrest of one of its employees in just one month.

Early Sunday morning, Baltimore Police arrested Safe Streets Outreach worker LeVar Mullen.

Mullen was pulled over for a seatbelt violation, when detectives asked if he had any guns or drugs, Mullen said no because he works for Safe Streets.

Police later searched Mullen and found a fully loaded stolen hand gun in his waistband. 

Late last month, another worker for Safe Streets Mondawmin was charged.

Nathan "Bodie" Barksdale, the Baltimore man who says he is the inspiration for the character Avon Barksdale on HBO's The Wire was indicted and arrested by the federal government on gun and drug charges.

Barksdale was employed by Safe Streets' Mondawmin group as a Violence Interrupter and was trusted to mediate conflict, interrupt violence and reduce shootings.

Last month, ABC2 News spoke to the Mondawmin Site Director Delaino Johnson who confirmed Barksdale was terminated on Nov. 25 prior to his arrest.

Still, Johnson said Barksdale was a valued member of Safe Streets Mondawmin.

"He had a major impact on reducing violence in our area," Johnson said.

Dr. Oxiris Barbot cited both incidents as the reason to suspend the Mondawmin site indefinitely saying "It's a program that works but it can also be a program that can be difficult to carry out.  There are many safeguards that we've put in place in terms of policies and procedures and so as a result of these new incidents we are putting the Mondawmin site on probation."

Dr. Barbot says her department will take two weeks to re-train and re-enforce existing members of Safe Streets Mondawmin with the goal of returning the program to that neighborhood. 

Dr. Barbot says there is no indication that either of the two charged employees were conducting criminal activity while in their roles as a Safe Street worker.

The three other Safe Streets locations in McElderry Park, Cherry HIll and Park Heights, a group recently profiled on ABC2 News, will continue to operate.

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