Radios and brooms vs. crime and dirt

April 14, 1994|By Karen E. Ludwig | Karen E. Ludwig,Contributing Writer

They patrol the streets, brightly clad in purple, red and black.

One holds a small radio. The other carries a broom.

Their job: to keep downtown Baltimore clean and safe. And Carl Jamison and Bill Sharnas take it to heart -- directing tourists, assisting the homeless, tidying walkways and watching out for crime.

"One time we had a shoplifter and [Mr. Jamison] apprehended the person and recovered the merchandise," said Darlene Smith, manager of the Dress Barn on North Charles Street, recalling the theft of two blouses and a pair of pants.

"He always stops in and sees if we need any help or if there are any suspicious people."

That's just part of the job for Mr. Jamison, who was honored HTC recently by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke for outstanding performance as one of downtown's public safety guides.

Mr. Sharnas also has been honored, as the "clean sweep ambassador" of the year.

"The streets are much cleaner," said Jeanne Byrnes, an employee at Gordon-Pope Limited on North Charles Street, which has been part of Mr. Sharnas' territory.

The 33 safety guides and 28 clean sweep ambassadors make up Baltimore's Clean and Safe Team, which patrols a 106-square-block area in downtown's core.

The team was formed a little over a year ago by the Downtown Partnership, an organization that works with businesses and city agencies to polish Baltimore's image.

The main funding for the Clean and Safe Team comes through a surcharge on commercial properties in the downtown business district.

Mr. Jamison, 31, has been a security guard and a correction officer. Today, he helps cut police response time by looking out for trouble and contacting the police by radio.

A former football player for the semipro Baltimore Rams, he has an imposing presence.

"He's very, very helpful," said Marsha Blackstock, assistant manager of Hanover Shoes on East Baltimore Street. "He'll walk me across the street to deposit the bank bag to make sure I don't get hurt."

Mr. Jamison, a resident of West Baltimore who spends his free time helping youths at his church, said his job is "hard sometimes, but all in all, the public reception is good. We have a really good relationship with the store owners in the area."

Mr. Sharnas, 56, is responsible for sweeping the sidewalks and gutters, weeding tree wells, pruning trees and cleaning up graffiti in his area. He also gives directions, helps pedestrians across the street and tries to help the homeless find food and shelter, he said.

He found the job after his former employer -- for whom he had worked 18 years -- went out of business.

The Canton resident said he likes his job "very much, because it makes you feel good that you are doing something for the city downtown. Years ago, it wasn't clean."

"Bill is always there, always doing a great job. I think he epitomizes what we expect of the Clean and Safe Team," said Brian Lewbart, director of public relations for the Downtown Partnership. "Rain or shine, he's out there with a smile on his face, doing his job."

Mr. Sharnas said his job with the Clean and Safe Team is a steppingstone. "I'm always trying to better myself, he said.

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