Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Baltimore Crime

Lately local crime has been on my mind. Here are a few instances:

  • While walking the dog last week the Queen and I witnessed some adolescent boys fighting in the park not 50 yards from us. Their friends looked on as the boys puffed up, threw punches and tackled each other. At the same time on a park bench behind us I overheard a kid tell his friends he was going to follow some girl, but to watch out because she had a razor hidden in her mouth. The younger kids scare me more than any other demographic in this area as they are fearless and have something to prove. Now that school is out for the summer I wish it wasn't.

  • Last week about 6 blocks North the police answered a call to help a young man who was being assaulted. Upon arriving at the scene a scuffle broke out with the man they came to protect, as he was allegedly carrying a gun. The young man was killed by the police in the altercation.

  • On the same street as the previous crime, Zach Sowers was beaten in a random act of violence while walking home from the bars in June of last year. He was in a coma until March of this year before he passed away. Since then, the kids convicted of his attempted murder cannot be charged with murder as they were convicted of attempted murder because Zach was alive at the time. Zach's death was belittled (and then redacted), which follows a pattern here in Baltimore of the victims being looked down upon while the criminals get plea bargains and pity because they have lived a hard life, or something.

  • The other night the Queen was stuck at a busy intersection due to an assault happening in the intersection. In the middle of the street, in day light she witnessed one guy in the middle of the street being repeatedly struck in the head with baseball bats and golf clubs by three guys. She called 911, was placed on hold for 5 minutes before getting through to the Baltimore City police. By the time the police picked up the assailants had run off.

    It took two days for this incident to show up in the Baltimore Sun's police blotter, there was no mention on the news of it nor have I seen any other print on it.

    "Police were seeking two men armed with baseball bats who assaulted five other men during a street fight in the 3700 block of Falls Road about 10:30 p.m. Monday. The victims suffered head injuries and were treated at four area hospitals."

    The police didn't quite get this one right... It was 9:00 pm, the number of assailants was incorrect, and the above makes the incident sound pretty benign. I guess if the person didn't die, it wasn't that bad.

I should be excited about Baltimore dropping from the second most violent city in 2006 to third in 2007, or the murder rates being down 30% this year. My immediate neighborhood (meaning within a few blocks of me) is considered to be pretty safe, but after seeing more crime in the area I'm wondering if something has changed or if I'm just noticing it more. Either way, it definitely dulls the glimmer of city living, like the closeness of restaurants, bars and social activities. While I loved the HBO Show The Wire I appreciated it when it showed the Baltimore that I didn't see at all as opposed to the one a few blocks over.

I'm not really sure why I wrote this entry, but seeing as crime has been on my mind I just thought I'd blog about it.

    + + +

Unrelated, I've been getting a bunch of spam comments. I'm not deleting any normal comments, just the spammers.


Beancountingqueen said...

And that's why I asked my parents for mace for my birthday.

Ethan said...

I work in downtown Baltimore. For the most part I feel safe but there are areas I try to avoid. I'm not really ever worried about being downtown but it's kinda sad how bad things have become.

Corey said...

Ethan - I live in Canton, which as you know is one of the safer areas. Reading crime notes on the area makes me realize there is a lot of crime that goes on that isn't published, or is glossed over.

Also with working in Baltimore you are here during the safest hours, so no worries for you.

BaltArch said...

I am up in Patterson Place-North of the park next to Butcher's Hill-and could not agree with you more about fearing the teens now that school is out. We are having quite a few problems with them now that the summer is here and have also found the blogger to be inaccurate and unreliable. We have gotten very involved with our neighborhood association and the SE police dept. in an effort to continue our neighborhood's move forward and not let the bad apples spoil all the hard work that has gone into our transitional area. I also agree that for whatever reason, crime that happens in Canton, Fed Hill, and the other established neighborhoods seems to get glossed over or not reported which is ridiculous and leads to the false sense of security. Conversly, everytime something happens here, north of the park, we are told, 'well, that'll happen up there' which is just as ridiculous. The City has made some great strides, but really has a long way to go!

Anonymous said...

That's very scary! I don't think I could ever live near a high crime area for very long. I briefly lived in Milwaukee (6th on the list you linked to) and as a single female I had to take extra precautions. I took self defense classes and even slept with a revolver in my nightstand (unlike most self defense firearms this one would actually do more than piss someone off). I had to pull it out twice but luckily both times were false alarms (homeless people going through the trash in my fenced in backyard). The year I lived there the murder rate was at an all time high and I used to wake up to gun shots at night. I lived in a relatively safe area but it was within walking distance of bad areas which was the problem. I had to begin to limit what I did after work. There was a shooting in broad daylight at a little cafe down the street from me I always wanted to go to; then someone was raped on the bike trail I used to go on everyday. The last straw was when the guy living in the flat below me was beat up and robbed right outside our house. My bosses at the time found me a new place to live and we threw all of my belongings in garbage bags and moved me that weekend. It sucked that I had to pay for rent at two places but at least I could leave my window open at night. There was a ton of crime that was never published in Milwaukee too. I heard of shootings and things near me through word of mouth not the news. In the 7 months I lived in at the first place there was somewhere from 10-15 murders within a 15 block radius but only 3 of them were ever reported on the news. I lived 5 minutes from a police station too.

I wish I had some advice for you. Stay safe!

Jeff said...

Call the police when you see anything suspicious. Consistently report problem properties and become an active member of your community. You can be a positive force or change here. Don’t let a very, very small number of people change the way you feel about a great city.

You can join one of my monthly neighborhood patrol walks in Reservoir Hill and I assure you that you will feel better about where you live!

Anonymous said...

You can in fact be charged with murder even after pleading guilty to attempted murder; the agreement reached with the defendants by the State's Attorney precludes that from happening.

Corey said...

baltarch: I need to look into getting more involved. There has just been a lot of petty stuff lately in the east, so would be interested to see how best to combat this.

threeacres: Glad to hear you made it out ok! The area I am in is fine most of the time, just in the past couple of weeks things had become more visible. Luckily in the last week we haven't seen anything, so maybe I'm being lulled into a false sense of security? To be honest, I'm not too worried. Just a lingering concern.

Jeff: If we see crimes, we call. And get put on hold. I'll look at getting more involved in my area.

Anony: Odd terms reached with State's attorney, but I guess it was agreed upon... That said, the sentences looked pretty heavy on the teens.

Mike said...

Don't be down, it's summer, this happens every summer.

This is total speculation, but based on my observations here in Greektown, I think that a surplus of rental properties has driven rents down, allowing lower-income people to encroach further into nicer parts of the city than they otherwise would have. If this is what's happening, it should reverse itself once the market picks up again.

In any case, I'm sure it's temporary and no cause for worry.

Paul said...

yes, that is the baltimore we knew.

it was exciting at one time, but when we had kids we knew something was gonna have to give. drop out rate was 50%, we noticed most girls at the OB office were high school girls there with their mother (who was usually our age) and with a population of 100k heroin users in a city of 1M.... that is one in 10 a junkie.

I do miss being able to walk to jon stevens, cat's eye pub, bertha's etc.