Police to continue Fells Point arrests

June 29, 1994|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writer

A Baltimore police commander says "nobody gets a break" during a crackdown on public drinking and disorderly conduct in Fells Point, a neighborhood where homeowners have complained about the behavior of patrons drawn to some 40 bars and restaurants.

The enforcement effort began last weekend, when officers arrested or cited 37 people for urinating in public, vandalizing parked cars and various traffic violations, said Maj. John E. Gavrilis, commander of the Southeastern District.

Major Gavrilis said a concerted effort will be made on weekends -- especially the July Fourth holiday -- to arrest offenders for what he called "nuisance crimes" that "bring down the quality of life" for residents.

"We want it to be a safe place for people to visit," Major Gavrilis said. "I want it known to a small minority of people that they will not get away with their shenanigans."

Major Gavrilis said nine people were arrested last weekend and booked on charges of public urination -- so many that combined with arrests from elsewhere in the district, the lockup became full.

One man was charged with breaking into a car and another with driving while intoxicated. Many, he said, were college-age students from the suburbs.

An additional seven people stopped for public urination were given criminal citations and will have to appear in court. The maximum penality is a $100 fine and 30 days in jail.

"When my officers get to court, I've instructed them to ask for the maximum," Major Gavrilis said.

He has an agreement with other districts to hold prisoners arrested during the crackdown, which will continue through the summer, he said.

"I'm encouraged," said Thomas S. Durel, president of the Fells Point Homeowners Association. About 4,000 people live in Fells Point. "The big issue is enforcement. If the laws are enforced, the word gets around and the behavior of some of our visitors will improve."

Mr. Durel called the weekend arrests "fabulous. That's exactly what should happen. It's been sort of a wide-open area for quite some time, where people could do what they want and get away with it."

Melvin J. Kodenski, president of the Fells Point Food and Beverage Association, which represents 30 of the estimated 40 bars and restaurants in Fells Point, said the misbehavior by some patrons "has gotten a little out of hand. . . . It's one of those things that shouldn't be allowed to happen. It wouldn't happen at Inner Harbor."

He said the bar owners need help in controlling the crowds, which can swell to several thousand on summer weekend nights.

Major Gavrilis said police will work with the Fire Department and the Liquor Board to ensure that bars do not pack in more people than they are allowed or serve alcohol to minors. He said officers also will work to control long lines of people waiting to get into nightclubs.

"It just gives an impression of unruliness," the major said, who stressed that major crime in Fells Point is not a problem.

"We have a good handle on that," he said. "It is the nuisance crimes that really affect the quality of life for the residents. That's what we are addressing."

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