Incensed and frustrated by increasing crime in their neighborhood, residents of two blocks in Charles Village met last night to organize a Crime Walkers program -- the first of its kind in the city.
Within a month, volunteers from the 2800 block of Calvert and St. Paul streets in groups of three or four will roam their streets and alleys on foot in an effort to deter the growing number of property crimes -- particularly burglaries and thefts from cars. "We have friends visiting from out of the country, and we have to tell these girls they can't trust anybody, can't leave their windows open, and they can't walk at night because there's a 90 percent chance they'd get assaulted," said Becky Manoukian, a resident of Charles Village for two years. "It's really sad."
Charles Village, a North Baltimore neighborhood of grand row houses, prides itself on its racially and economically diverse population -- ranging from students to professionals.
However, residents are not proud of the area's crime rate, which police statistics indicate has increased from a year ago. And on the 2800 block of Calvert and St. Paul streets the crime rate has quadrupled -- from 3 reported crimes for the first three months last year to 13 for the same period this year.
To stop the increase, residents plan to take to the streets -- wearing reflective colored vests or armbands and carrying flashlights and walkie-talkies as part of Crime Walkers, a program created by the city state's attorney's office.
The plans were discussed at a meeting last night in SS. Philip and James Church on Charles Street.
Although violent crime is not prevalent in the neighborhood, many of the 50 residents who attended expressed concern about the murder of one of their neighbors two weeks ago.
Barbara E. Halsey, 35, a nurse at the Veterans Administration Hospital who lived in an apartment in the 2800 block of Calvert Street, was found stabbed to death. No arrests have been made in the incident, police said.
"That someone can get murdered right around the corner from me and I didn't even know that person is a sad commentary on the way we live our lives," said Steve Rivelis, who lives in the 2800 block of Calvert Street.
He expressed hope the Crime Walkers program will change that. Mr. Rivelis said that for the last two months, he and his neighbors have been meeting in each other's homes for breakfast, exchanging phone numbers and warning each other about any safety threats.