Monday, March 1, 2010

Thoughts and observations about crime and security around Town

Some thoughts on the past year as a security consultant and observer of crime in the Baltimore area:
  • Commissioner Bealefeld and his crew deserve a lot of credit on murders and other crimes in Baltimore this past year.
  • When I was in the hot tub and my favorite gym ( and Michael Phelps's), a woman asked me: so, why is crime down this past year? My answer: I didn't know. (ha, that's an honest answer, isn't it?). But seriously, who knows? The crimes that have been reported, of course, are way down from previous years, especially murders. But why? Commish Bealefeld would say that it his strategy of "targeting bad guys with guns". Perhaps. And perhaps all these guys who used to have guns were doing other crimes too. But crime is down, generally, throughout most of the country. Is this a statistical artifact? Or is it really down, or is this just a lull in the reported numbers? Or is there an "issue in measurement?"
  • The heavy snowfall helped a lot in keeping the numbers down the first couple of months of the year. And though the department says that "similar" weather in the 95-96 winter had almost double the number of homicides, no storms compared to what we've had in the last 3 weeks could be called similar. Normally we get 18.5 inches a season of snow. This season, so far, we've had 80 inches! And some of Baltimore's biggest snow storms have been in March.
  • We're really glad to hear that the Police Commissioner is going to focus more attention on robberies. I've always thought that that is the crime that's the most important as a reflection of a city's safety. It usually occurs in public, is stranger-to-stranger, and places victims in immediate fear of serious injury or death.
  • During '09 one had to wonder, though, if burglary wasn't decriminalized in the city. Several of the private schools were broken into during the winter and lots of electronic stuff was taken. To my knowledge, no arrests were made and nothing was recovered.
  • One lawyer friend had his offices broken into, and the thuggies spent a lot of time there. They took the keys to a rental storage unit nearby where he had stuff. Fortunately, he discovered this and changed the codes. However, the security cameras captured the thieves (or their friends) as they were trying to get into the place using the wrong code at the barrier gate. They got the tag number of the car, a guy's face, and his tattoo on his arm. All this info was given to the city police: "we're too busy". They, the detectives, never followed up, no arrests were made, and no property was recovered.
  • The Rodgers Forge neighborhood in Baltimore county was hit with a wave of burglaries in the latter part of 09 (thankfully, they seemed to have stopped for the time being). They even asked yours truly if he would come and speak to them about securing their homes better. And I did: my talk at Rodgers Forge Elementary School, with 25-30 residents, lasted about an hour and a half, including question and answer session. And I got one homeowner who asked for a modest security audit out of that.
  • The weirdest thing: for more than a year I was on a yahoo listserve in a North Baltimore community reading their thoughts about crime and other suspicious things in the area near Belvedere Square. I asked to come onto the list serve, and the moderator allowed me to come on, apparently learning about my background. So, I "lurked" on the talk forum for more than a year. Neither she nor they ever asked for my thoughts about anything related to crime or any advice. I never posted. But once, on this blog, I posted something she said the police said (which sounded a bit ridiculous, but after all, she said the cops said it), and I attributed to the group without naming them directly. She kicked me off the forum for "violating the sacred confidentiality of the the yahoo talk forum"! Needless to say I was dumbfounded since I did not mention the name of the group, or anyone in it, nor did I identify even the user names they use. Nevertheless, she said I endangered the "crime-fighting effectiveness" of the group. Oh.
  • But that wasn't good enough for this mean-spirited person. Apparently, she is on several listserves/talk forums. When she saw that Rodgers Forge had invited me to speak about burglary prevention, she sent a nasty unsolicited email basically saying that I could not be trusted! They had me speak anyway.
  • The burglaries in Rodgers Forge seemed to have stopped for the time being. I've noticed a huge trend throughout the northern border of the city, along with greater Towson, Rodgers Forge, Cedarcroft, Parkville, etc. Buz wonders if burglary is now legalized.
  • The cops and firefighters have decided to sue the city to demand their full pensions as promised to them---though the city says it can't afford it and doesn't have the money. Stand by for more budget-cutting all you friends of Foxtrot and the pretty horses.
  • Note to College Park students: if, after a basketball game, you decide to go to Route 1 for some action, please go the other way when riot-equipped police are coming at you. If you get clobbered by an implement of some kind, it means you are too close to the "action". If you get arrested, no whining. You have been advised!