Monday, January 19, 2009

WWRD ! ?: What Would Ray Do !?

Buz was very interested to read in Laura Vozella's column in the Sun recently that during the height of the winter violence several weeks ago, Ray Lewis had gone to police headquarters to offer whatever help he could to stem the attraction of gangs and gang violence among young people  in Baltimore, and in general to stem and stop some of the violence.

I think that anyone can, in their life, contribute somehow to something of a redemption. Apparently, Ray believes his time is now.

It sound as though the article indicated the police had not decided on what the best way to use Ray's fine offer of assistance. We've come up with a few ideas, though they are more in the arena of prevention, rather that policing. But here are some things Ray could do:
  1. Visit the House of Ruth, and hear first hand about the issue of violence toward women from battered ones themselves. Ray could take a stand against partner-on-partner violence, and would have a lot of credibility since he has been engaged in a very violent sport. He could speak to the batterers, and tell them to get themselves together and respect other human beings, that is the women they supposedly love.
  2. Ray could offer to fund, through a foundation, additional housing for battered women attempting to escape from circumstances of male privilege, anger, and frustration taken out on women--in the name of power and control. House of Ruth has to turn away lots of women and children each year who are trying to get away from the clutches of their "loved" ones.
  3. He could visit the Juvenile Justice Center on Gay Street and speak to the young people there ; find out why they're there; and suggest to them a better way. Offer them a free ticket to a Ravens game if they don't get arrested for three years, and 4 tickets for graduating from high school.
  4. Ray could hook up with Colonel Richard Hite of the police department's community relations section, and walk along (he could bring the rest of the team) with Hite's effort's to get people "out of the game". He could offer to hire as many as could qualify for his restaurant. He might have enough employees to open a second or third restaurant.
  5. He could partner with Dan Rodricks and ask each PSL holder who owns a business to hire one ex-offender--just one.
  6. We think he could meet with Dr. Ben Carson and visit neighborhood high schools (not Poly or City), and talk about the limits of athletics and the hope which lies in academics and science, and how gang stuff is ultimately stupid stuff.
  7. Ray would make a great Big Brother to some kid who's headed for a life of crime (Ray is pretty big, you know). And it doesn't take a genius to figure out which kids are headed for a wild ride of criminal behavior.
  8. Ray could take his bodyguards and all his teammates  and visit Viva House in southwest Baltimore, help serve a meal, and get a good look of the other Baltimore which is almost in sight of the Ravens Stadium. Hear some stories. Then, before they leave, Ray and his guys (except the poor underpaid bodyguards) could each leave an envelope with 40 $100 bills for Willa Bickham and Brendan Walsh to put in their checking accounts--and, no, they don't have to pay any of the Ravens' credit card bills.
  9. Ray could roll up to that guy on the corner of President and Lombard street who's missing 3 limbs (recently pictured in the city paper), put him in his car, rent him an apartment, hire a social worker, and try to keep him from begging on our city's streets.
  10. Ray could hook up with former police commissioner Frazier, and find out what's up with the Police Athletic League, and why it essentially went out of business as a 501c3, and find out how it made an effort to establish a connection between cops and kids, and keep kids safe in some real bad neighborhoods.
  11. Ray could go up to Pimlico and talk to the guys who are smashing the poor lady's windows out as reported by Peter Hermann--because they thought she was "snitching" on their nefarious activities. Ray and his guys could tell these thugs to, in language of the locker room, "leave the lady alone."
  12. He could film a "start snitching" video, featuring NFL touchdown dances before they were banned. In conjunction with that, he could start a Start Snitching hot line, where folks could call in and snitch on murderers and rapists, and guys carrying guns on the street robbing law-abiding people. In the video, Ray would urge gang members to be cool and help people out instead of knocking people out--or Ray might knock them out. Ray could even staff the line himself sometimes; just think: you could call the line with information about crime and spend some time chatting with Ray: sublime! {But ya gotta have info, though!}
  13. Ray could help expand the Safe Street initiative by talking to guys in certain neighborhoods who have beefs to cool it, to keep from getting penalized. Just like he did on the field. Keep your emotions in check.
  14. Ray could fund a full college or technical school scholarship for one student every year who graduated from a city neighborhood high school, starting with Reginald Lewis High School this year, then add a school every year--but not one of the city's elite high schools. Dr. Alonso could help him thru this process.
  15. Ray could consult with Hathaway Ferebee of the Safe & Sound Campaign, and learn what that group is doing to keep kids from joining gangs, and what he can do to lend a hand. It would not take a lot of his money, relatively, and his presence at some events would lend enormous credibility.
  16. He could escort a rape victim to court, so that she would not be intimidated by the suspect's friends and relatives.
Your consultant hopes this enough to get him started, but I'm sure many readers will have additional ideas.


ppatin said...


In your previous post you made a comment about how many younger potential city residents are now less likely to live in Baltimore and are looking out in the counties instead. One huge issue other than crime that affects this decision is the city's horrendous property tax rate. Compared to the rate in Baltimore County the City's property taxes are through the roof. It's less noticeable when you're renting, but as you reach the point in life where you consider buying a house the property tax really starts to be a big negative. Hell, I wouldn't mind paying it if I felt like I was getting something for my money, however the knowledge that it's all going to a failed school system, ineffective social programs and corrupt contractors who happen to employ the mayor's sister is really discouraging.

buzoncrime said...

P---I understand your feelings, and these have been mentioned many times by persons more erudite on economics than I am. The last time I checked, Baltimore City's tax rate was more than twice as much as any other county's. And over the years, there haas been talk and some modest reductions a while back. But, of course, now the city's broke. And, of course, the city's auto insurance rate is very high as well--though parts of the county are trying to catch up (I understand it all depends on your zip code).
When considering where to buy a house, there are a whole lot of variables and tradeoffs to consider, the taxes you're gonna have to pay out of escrow being one of them. I believe bigger considerations are quality of life, neighborhood, and exact location, including commuting time to work, as well as cost/quality of the house itself, and, of course, perceived risk.

My wife and I lived in Tuxedo Park (next to Roland Park-called "Wyndhurst by the city) for 13 years, and in our semi-retirement have downsized to a inside-the-group rowhouse in Medfield, mainly because it's very walkable and generally isolated from high-crime areas, yet still centrally located. And we both hate driving! Our house is extremely energy-efficient, the neighbors on our block are stable and a deterrent to crime, though we have to put up with some "city stuff" once in a while, the price was/is right.

However, we bought a beautiful rowhouse in Hampden, which for a variety of reasons, we have chosen to rent, and we get $1600/month for. But: our taxes on it are $4800/year, more than 3 times what we pay for our Medfield house.

Though we have a few concerns, as you mention, we feel confident in reasonable police response to calls (I called once last summer at 5am, and police were there in less than 5 minutes), a quick fire/ems response (a neighbor's house caught fire last month, and a massive fire department response knocked it down in less than 5 minutes after arrival), and our trash is picked up twice a week without fail. When water mains have burst nearby, the city was out there that day and all night, and fixed them. Recently, I used the online 311 for several parking complaints/abandoned cars. Parking Control was there tagging in less than an hour! [Cash flow, of course]

When we lived in Tuxedo Park, almost all our neighbors sent their kids to Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, and our next-door neighbors two boys went to City College. Many social programs are actually funded by the state, and yes, many are ineffective. And yes, the mayor is unethical (and maybe even criminal, though we'll see about that). So, while it may be somewhat discouraging, we'd rather live in the city, then next to endless look-alike shopping centers requiring endless driving on interstates. Life is full of tradeoffs!

ppatin said...


I get what you're saying about the benefits of living in the city. I'd certainly take Baltimore with all of its problems over some horrible cookie-cutter suburb like Columbia. Still, after being burglarized and having my roommate's car broken into Catonsville is starting to seem more and more appealing. I'm a huge fan of Hampden actually, but because I work in Howard County it's a pain to live too far away from I-95. Once my current lease expires I'm thinking of trying out Locust Point for a year or two. From what I understand it's one of the safest neighborhoods in the city, and isn't overrun with overgrown frat boys like Federal Hill is.

buzoncrime said...

Hey, P---
Take a look at the city's crime map for the neighborhood of Locust Point; unless, the system is somehow kaput, not a single reported crime is there for the 2-week period, December 27-January 10th. Of course, the neighborhood boundaries delineate a very small area, but still.......

John said...

You see our friend Sebastian?

Is his GLOCK in a holster or just in his pocket?

buzoncrime said...

John---It appears that the gun is just stuck in his pocket; in fact, it is sticking out of the pocket (at least from the picture in the paper version). And it appears that the picture is staged for the photographer. I don't think that Pigtown's that bad yet, that one needs to go down the street with a shotgun in hand and pistol in your pocket.
I think what Sebastian is doing is great; just don't ask me to do it anymore. And most people don't want to deal with that kind of crap where they live, unless they have to.