Saturday, March 14, 2009

Notes on local crime and security in Balitmore

  • The Charles Village Community Benefits District is pretty much done with their attempts to create a more secure neighborhood thru a neighborhood community safety team. For a variety of reasons, that model doesn't work very well there. Plus, the Benefits District is pretty much out of money for that sort of thing. So, it appears that they're going to move to a more Harbel-like model: a "community relations director" who'll be the link between the 4 neighborhoods and the police, and other city and state agencies. This person may also attempt to organize a better, more effective citizens-on-patrol. Buz thinks even that may be difficult in some to the areas of the Benefits District, but we'll see.
  • We journeyed down onto the Hopkins Homewood campus the other day and ran into Ed Skrodzki, the Executive Director of Safety and Security there. I just think he's doing a great job since he took over several years ago: we saw evidence of security everywhere. And Hopkins was rated #1 in the country for higher education security after a survey by Readers' Digest for its policies, procedures, and practices related to security factors they judged. In fact, the campus itself is very safe; most of the trouble happens in the areas off campus. (Loyola in Maryland came out #14 in that study; Hopkins and Loyola were the only two schools in Maryland in the top 100.
  • While we were there, we went into the Barnes & Noble to hear the kickoff talk commemorating the publishing of her new novel by Laura Lippman; a wonderful speaker, who described how the book is sort of inspired by the power of memory along with a true Baltimore case of a women who refused  to reveal what happened to her missing child. We picked up a copy; we're a great fan of Laura's, a native Baltimorean-who lives in South Baltimore (not Federal Hill, Riverside Park, or Locust Point; South Baltimore).
  • The strange case of Annie McCann continues to baffle. Your consultant is especially intrigued by the tale of the teenager whose print was found on her car: that they saw a white guy pull up and leave the car. They decided to steal the car, but first pulled out Annie's body, so they could go joyriding in the car for a while. Apparently, finding a dead girl in the car didn't slow down their ardor for the ride around the 'hood. Your consultant cannot believe this B.S.  One thing I've learned after many years of dealing with miscreants, drug-users, and thugs: they are invariably deceptive, untrustworthy, deceitful, manipulative and so full of B.S. that sometimes even they lose track of the real story. Unfortunately, the case is not even being ruled a murder by the medical examiner! I know that Sean Jones, the lead detective (only detective now?) is a great cop and a bold investigator, but he appears to not have many leads worth working on here. And, of course, Baltimore's murders continue. Buz wonders: given the exact same set of evidence regarding her body and the circumstances of her death, what would the Medical Examiners of our nearby states declare the cause of death to be? And what do they think of Maryland's huge number of undetermined causes of death? Do we have so many more druggies than, say, Pennsylvania? By the way, why do you think that kid's print was in the police department's database? Not for being on the honor roll at school, we can assure you.
  • My dear friend, Michael Cantor, has re-invigorated the website for his self-defense training, and provides a low-key, non-combative, and non-aggressive training for defusing potentially violent situations. Mike is also the owner of Salamander Books on the Avenue in downtown Hampden, Merlin, hon. If you stop in, he'll have some good stuff for you to browse thru and can answer any questions about his self-defense and awareness training. Or you can look at his website at
  • We hope Buz is wrong, but with warm weather just around the corner, we are waiting for the criminals to begin their spring offensive to take back "their" streets for having fun and doing drugs, and fighting, and carrying-on and stuff.


The Editors said...

Buz, again I find you dead on. The security presence at Hopkins is spot on. I frequently go through that area, whether jogging, dining at one of the eateries, or catching a Blue Jays LAX game. It's a rare thing to feel that level of safety in a public place in Baltimore, save the inner harbor. Good on them for the job your friend is doing.

As for the case of the teenage girl from VA. The whole darn thing smells mighty strange, no pun intended at all.

You are correct, we have way too many "undetermined" deaths here. It boggles the mind. Oh well. Chalk that up to my list of assembled Baltimore Boondoggles. We're a city of dubious distinction.

buzoncrime said...

Thanks you for kind comment, Editor!

Hopkins extends its security presence out from the campus a few blocks--generally not past Guilford. And as we have seen from the triple shooting/double murder on Greenmount last night, the area east of the campus faces stern challenges.

Despite the recent drop in crime overall (not murders much), the city still has a crime problem in many areas at night.

I'm sure the medical examiner is categorizing the deaths in a truly scientific way--as he sees it. But we have plenty which are in fact declared to be murders.

The Editors said...

Hey Buz,

Don't forget, last night's triple shooting was the second one in just three days. Folks, we really got a big, big problem here. Said it before, but I will say it again. Bravo to Hopkins for doing such an excellent job. At least in that little area, one can feel a relative sense of security and be somewhat at ease while walking about at night.

A.F. James MacArthur


So when are we going to see a guest blog on The Baltimore Spectator from Lt. Buz himself?

The Editors said...

9 Shootings, 1 stabbing, plus a body found in a vacant house. The Baltimore Spectator and his thousands of readers would love to hear from the eloquently articulate, retired lawman and his personal take on the violence occurring this week.

Oh, and by the way, it's only Thursday.

A.F. James MacArthur

buzoncrime said...

Those numbers are only the ones the press has learned about; I wouldn't be surprised that there were a fair number of other violent acts, including robberies, that we generally don't know about. The city's website has about a 2-week lag in its postings. (For a while over the winter, they apparently weren't updating at all because a key employee had left).

I can tell you that while attending many community meetings in the past, as a sergeant in the Southwest, and a Captain in the Northwest, neighborhood people and leaders invariably worried about the coming of the first warm weather--and its attendant violence potential. There's a lot of street action when it gets to be above 65, a lot of hanging out, acting out and hollering and stuff. A lot more strutting and posturing outside, and drinking, and people pushing their limits with other people: till they find someone who doesn't like to be pushed.

Last weekend was pretty warm and one of my correspondents reported that there was a "pseudo-riot" at closing time at Iguana Cantina/Power Plant live area. That often happens at closing time in the heavy bar areas. [Sensible people head for home about 1am; people looking for excitement hang around to watch the fights and other action.]
It's like people feel they have to just bust out!

It sounds like these triple shootings were targeted as a result of either: a particular personal beef or, a continuation of the organized-crime connected killings related to Baltimore's own private civil war--covering about 4 square miles of the city. We don't have enough information at this time. I'm sure the Commish and his crew are concerned. The City Paper has done a lot of good reporting on the the violence to capture part of the city's lucrative drug markets, particularly the bizarre events surrounding the kidnapping of two brothers in Catonsville last year.

Oh, and usually Thursday night is when it starts getting busy for the weekend.

The Editors said...

Permission to republish sir?

buzoncrime said...

Oh, sure, Editor---feel free.

The Editors said...

You've been published on the Baltimore Spectator;

Anonymous said...

There was a non-fatal knife attack in the Rutland underpass by Hopkins Hospital Tuesday night. It was a domestic disagreement apparently.

The Editors said...

Ouch, didn't hear about that one.

buzoncrime said...

Thanks, Anonymous!
Domestic violence is a sad and unfortunately very prevalent thing--often intertwined with substance abuse.

The best advice Buz can give to gals: make it pretty clear early in a relationship: if you ever hit me, I'm gone! Experience has shown that domestic assault is very frequently repeated and is often mixed with stalking and other forms of harassment.

Young ladies need to look early on for signs of power and control: "where are you going"; "who are you talking to ?"; , etc. It's easier said then done, because a lot of women look for guys to be "tough", and in some cases "street cred". I wish Rihanna luck, but ain't putting any money on a positive outcome long-term.

The Editors said...

Buz, as always the wisdom of your comments are greatly appreciated. There is a lot this community can learn by listening to experience.

Your comments republished on The Baltimore Spectator have been hugely popular drawing hits and traffic from around the world.

I caught some flak when I tried to repost it on The Baltimore Sun "local news" forum. I'm beginning to think our local paper is as phony as they come. Their sincerity at truly informing the public and spreading public safety is questionable.

I wrote a piece on my most recent experiences in dealing with them at The Baltimore Spectator. You should give it a read when you get a moment.

Peace and Blessings!

A.F. James MacArthur