In a gesture of unity, Charles Village residents,
Baltimore City police, civic leaders, elected
officials and Johns Hopkins affiliates came together
Wednesday evening to usher in Citizens on
Patrol, a neighborhood watch program that seeks to reduce
crime in the area and become a model
effort for the city.
Some 40 people gathered on the corner of 26th Street
and North Charles Street to honor the
occasion and then take part in the first of what will
become multiple citizen patrols a week in an area
that stretches from 20th Street in the south to Union
Memorial Hospital in the north.
Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld
was on hand to lead the walk and
express his support for the C.O.P. program, which is a
cornerstone of Mayor Dixon's crime-prevention
"You won't get a bigger affirmation of the mayor's
public safety strategy than what you see
looking to the left and right, and in front and behind
you," said Bealefeld as he pointed to the large
group gathered. "The core principle of that strategy is
public engagement, and that is what we are
seeing here today."
Bealefeld said that Citizens on Patrol represents
"real action" and a commitment by the
community to enhance public safety. He applauded those who
came out for the first walk and those
responsible for organizing the program.
"This is not the silver bullet or magic solution to
crime in Baltimore," he said. "But what it does
is it sends a message to the criminals, and all the other
area residents who are not standing on the
corner with us today, that there are people who care about
this community — and that there are
businesses, universities and other partners who are
dedicated to making this community safer."
The Citizens on Patrol program is a collaborative
effort of the Charles Village Community
Benefits District, Charles Village Civic Association,
Baltimore Police Department, Greater Homewood
Community Corp., Union Memorial Hospital and The Johns
Hopkins University. The Charles Village
Community Benefits District will lead the program and host
the training sessions for the walkers.
Starting this month, the program's participants will
walk in groups of four or more to serve as a
deterrent to crime and alert police to crimes in progress
or suspicious behavior, such as one or more
persons sitting in a parked vehicle for an extended period,
or a lurker in a back alley. To report a
crime in progress, the neighborhood walkers are being told
to call 911, where their calls will be placed
in a priority queue, and to phone 311 for nonemergency
Residents, themselves, will determine the time and
duration of the walks.
For its part, Johns Hopkins has been a staunch
proponent of the program and has provided
technical and administrative assistance to help make
Citizens on Patrol a reality. As part of its future
commitment, Johns Hopkins security personnel will help
train the neighborhood walkers and also
provide necessary supportive equipment.
Edmund Skrodzki, executive director of safety and security at Homewood,
said that there have
been neighborhood watch programs in the past, but what
makes this effort different is the strong
level of commitment from the partners and the fact that two
neighborhood organizations--the Charles
Village Community Benefits District and the Charles Village
Civic Association--are taking ownership.
Skrodzki said that Johns Hopkins fully supports the
program and will continue to provide
whatever assistance is necessary for the program's
"I, myself, will be out there on some of these walks,"
he said. "We all have a common stake in all
this--the safety of our community."
Dana Moore, president of the Charles Village Civic
Association, said that JHU has been an
"To be honest, this is happening because of Ed
Skrodzki and Salem Reiner [the university's
director of community affairs]," she said. "They firmly
believed that this is what the community
needed. I resisted at first, but they were persistent and
made me come around."
Deputy Maj. Ross Buzzuro, who heads the Police
Department's Northern District, said that
there is a real need and purpose for such a program.
"It's no secret that you are the eyes and ears for the
police," Buzzuro told those gathered.
"What we have here tonight is just another positive sign
that Charles Village wants to take ownership
of the community, and we want to walk alongside you."
To participate in the program, contact Laura Coons,
walker coordinator, at 443-224-7368. To
take part in the upcoming walker training session, contact
the CVCBD office at 410-235-4411.