South Court residents join neighbors to fight crime

September 06, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

South Court Street residents have heard that drug dealers and users call the street "Crack Alley." But some of the neighbors are ready to try to shed that label.

"We can't be safe anymore," says resident Kathy Eyler. "We want it [drug dealing] gone."

Residents say drug deals occur between parked cars, beyond the range of the nearest street light. They say that plastic bags discarded by crack cocaine users can be found in the surface of the tot lot between South Court and Center streets.

Ms. Eyler and about four of her neighbors went to Neighbors United for help last week.

Neighbors United, a 15-month-old Pennsylvania Avenue, Union Street and West Main Street community group, has fought crime and drug trafficking in its neighborhood.

The South Court Street residents had talked of forming a neighborhood association, but they decided to join Neighbors United after Pennsylvania Avenue resident Charlotte Brown urged the residents to stand together.

"If you stick with us and come join us, things will get better," pledged Phyllis Anderson, a Pennsylvania Avenue resident and vice president of Neighbors United.

Mrs. Anderson said she understands that some residents are afraid of retaliation if they attend meetings or give their names and addresses for an association roster.

But people have to help fight crime, she said. "You can't put all your problems on the police and expect them to solve the problem."

Robert T. Kelly Jr., who owns a townhouse on South Court Street, said residents of the townhouse unit park on the street instead of using their off-street parking spaces because of drug deals among the parked cars.

L He and others suggested better street lighting for the area.

"I'd rather have street lights coming through my window than a bullet," said resident David Thompson.

Barbara Goedeke, Mr. Thompson's mother, said that when she returns from working late, "I park my car. I look around. I grab my purse. I'm afraid to get out of the car."

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. added two street lights behind apartments on South Center Street after the drug-related fatal shooting of Gregory Lamont Howard on the street in 1993.

City government also changed mercury vapor to brighter sodium vapor lights, said Thomas B. Beyard, city public works director.

Police Chief Sam R. Leppo told residents that an officer now walks the South Center Street area beat.

He said the patrolman is on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but will work a rotating 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift.

L Drug dealing generally occurs late at night, residents said.

Chief Leppo said police have a patrol car cruising the area during late night and early morning hours, but he will not put the foot patrolman on a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift because he wants the officer to be visible to neighborhood residents.

Since Jan. 1, city police have made 35 drug-related arrests in the South Court Street area, Lt. Randy Barnes, police public information officer, said.

He said that between June 1, 1993, and Aug. 30, 1994, the city officer assigned to investigate illegal drugs has made 85 arrests in addition to arrests made by the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force.

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