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Charles Village Benefits District Launches Safety Program

The district has hired two off-duty Baltimore police officers to patrol the neighborhoods that make up the district.

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.

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Dave September 12, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Um, don't know about other people, but I'm a little more concerned about someone pulling a gun on me than I am with prostitution.
Stephen Gewirtz September 12, 2012 at 04:00 PM
The hours of the patrols will be minimal. We could have 24/7 patrols if the benefits district would do that instead of its very ineffective sanitation program. In fact, they started providing trash cans after they dropped the security patrols, basically because they needed some way to justify their existence without security patrols. Now that they have found a way to provide what should be effective security patrols, we are stuck with the trash cans and therefore will get a lot less security patrols despite the fact that when the district was formed, we were promised 24/7 security patrols.
ralahinn1 September 12, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Any help in crime prevention is good, especially since there are so many vulnerable people in this area, and those that like to prey on them. I wish that a group like the Guardian Angels or even better, the" Real Life Superheroes" would randomly patrol the area ( or say they did) so that crimes would further go down. I thank God for the Hopkins guards in the area. There are some places I chose to shop just because I know the guards are there.
Valerie Butler September 13, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Me too! In the 19 years that I've lived in Charles Village, I've been mugged at gunpoint three times, had my car broken into 3 times (even with nothing in it), and my house broken into 4 times (that was in the late 90s). All of this in Charles Village. The last mugging was in 2010 and they put a gun to the back of my head. This was on Saint Paul Street near 29th, on a holiday when there wasn't much traffic or people out. All the muggings occurred during the day, and usually on a Sunday or Monday. I can't stand the crime in our neighborhood and I'm very happy to hear about the new patrols. I hope they do some good.
k harris September 13, 2012 at 05:46 PM
agreed 1000% and I feel sick that my tax money is going to be used to harass prostitutes and force them into more unsafe areas.
BlockCaptain September 13, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Instead of complaining on the internet, you should pitch in & lend a hand. Raise funds for those security guards that you want. Go ask for the Guardian Angels, or become one. Do something instead of flapping your hands.
Baltimore Matt September 13, 2012 at 07:25 PM
It seems like the city likes to sees the security as an alternative to the police and not as an additive force and forgets that the property owners do infact pay full rate taxes (which is extremely high in a neighborhood full of $500,000 row houses and high quality apartment buildings) as well as a district surcharge. I guess this is what happens when the city is crying that it's broke. Charles Village and it's surrounding neighborhoods need to become more vocal (I know it's hard when over half of your residents are short term apartment renters and students, but it can be done) regarding the crime, protecting residents and keeping elements out that don't belong.
BlockCaptain September 14, 2012 at 02:36 PM
The city had nothing to do with this. CVBD did.

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