The Charles Village Community Benefits District’s new safety program will be hitting the streets Wednesday trying to crackdown on persistent crime in the neighborhood.
The district has hired two off-duty Baltimore police officers to patrol the neighborhood in an attempt to decrease crimes, such as prostitution, that have been a consistent concern for neighbors.
"The community was really pushing to bring back the off-duty officers like we had in the past," said Diana Mitchell, Community Safety Program coordinator.
Previously the benefits district had a full security program, but that was scrapped several years ago because of concerns about the cost and the program’s effectiveness. In recent years the district has focused more of its paid staff on sanitation efforts.
Currently homeowners in Charles Village, Old Goucher, Harwood, Remington and Abell pay 12 cents per $100 of assessed value in surtax to support programs run by the benefits district. That’s on top of the $2.268 per $100 of assessed value that city residents already pay in property taxes, the highest in the state.
But after a year that Mitchell said had "a lot of ups and downs" with crime, the district decided to bring back the off-duty officers to patrol certain parts of the community at specific times.
She said the district and the officers would be reviewing the crime statistics and deciding where to focus their efforts.
"[We’ll be] targeting the right areas at the right times," Mitchell said.
Previous attempts to raise the surtax in the district to pay for the increased security have failed, so the district is funding the program with its current budget. Mitchell said they would like to eventually expand the program so they could have patrols 24 hours a day, and are searching for alternate funding sources to help pay for the program.