Officials Claim Crime Perception Larger Than Reality
By A.F. James MacArthur Ph.A.L.
Where will you watch the fireworks?
Baltimore's Inner Harbor has long been a traditional spot for one the largest gatherings to see fireworks and celebrate the Fourth Of July on the east coast. With recent high profile crimes dominating headlines, officials worry about the potential economic impact if people decide to avoid the Inner Harbor for the holiday.
Head spokesman of the Baltimore Police Department, Anthony Guglielmi said “we are trying to reassure the public that downtown is safe – and right now, they do not believe that.” “It is all about perception, and people have to feel safe. Perception is a very tough thing to deal with.” The Baltimore Spectator notes that Mr. Guglielmi lives far away from Baltimore in the bucolic suburb of Alexandria, VA just outside Washington, DC. Apparently his perception of Baltimore isn't very high either.
With all the focus lately on downtown, including an increase of 50 police officers flooding the area under direct orders of Police Commissioner Bealefeld, many city residents feel all the attention is going downtown, while their neighborhoods are becoming more dangerous. The shooting of a five year old girl named Raven yesterday has raised the issue to new relevance. Raven was shot in the head while walking home and today remains in the hospital clinging to life in critical condition and on life support. Even Mayor Sheila Dixon came on scene stating something has to be done about this.
As the senseless violence, including a continued barrage of shootings; many harming innocent people, stabbings, and general mayhem continue to plague Baltimore neighborhoods; officials are doing all they can to ensure us downtown is safe. The duplicity is astounding. According to Kirby Fowler, president of Baltimore's Downtown Partnership; “Every day, there are on average 160,000 people downtown, and the normal experience is a safe experience downtown.”
Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III added “this gang situation in Baltimore is very real and we stand on the cusp of going one way or the other. We have an opportunity in Baltimore that few other cities have. L.A. is now generations into their gang problem. You have grandparents [there] who were Bloods and Crips. And entire families whose lives are sewn into gangs and gang violence. We don’t have that in Baltimore, so we have to firewall off the next generation from this as creatively as we can.”
Of course no one is talking about the age old Baltimore tradition of firing live rounds up in the air. Perhaps in city where the majority who begin high school will never graduate, a simple science lesson was never learned; what goes up, must come down.
Guglielmi added; “People have to feel safe and we’re open to working with everybody to do this,” he said. “This is a community issue that Baltimore needs to rally around.”
Where will you be watching the fireworks tomorrow?
This spring, downton Baltimore/Inner Harbor crimes included:
- Five attacks reported in Federal Hill.
- A knife attack at the Inner Harbor in April.
- An assault on an off-duty police officer from New Jersey and his girlfriend.
- A nanny walking a child was attacked in mid-afternoon June 1; thugs rifled through the stroller, with the baby inside, to take an iPod.
- A venture capital firm, New Enterprises Associates, announced in early June that it’s moving its midtown headquarters to Timonium, mainly because of concerns about crime.
Source: Exhibit A