Northern District police focus on crime prevention at forum Shooting at Rotunda made topic urgent for residents

March 31, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

"Kick it out!"

If confronted by robbers, you should know that the phrase means to hand over your money. And you should comply, a Baltimore police sergeant said yesterday at a community crime prevention forum.

"Hand it over, and let them get out of there," said Northern District Sgt. Jack Kincaid. "Don't try to confront them."

It was one of many pieces of advice and strategies presented yesterday by police and community workers to help people stay safe and help neighborhoods prevent crime.

Though the forum, held at the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus, had been planned for several weeks, Thursday's shooting of a Giant supermarket cashier during a robbery attempt at the nearby Rotunda shopping center made the topic of crime prevention seem more urgent.

"The Giant [shooting] really brought that home," said Sandy Sparks, executive director of the Greater Homewood Community Corporation, a sponsor of the forum. "It makes people focus on crime. Certain incidents are galvanizing."

Mary Haines, 30, who was shot in the shoulder, arm and neck, was discharged yesterday from Maryland Shock Trauma Center. One suspect, Lawrence Haskins III, 34, was charged Friday with assault with intent to murder in connection with the shooting, and two others were being sought. But the focus of yesterday's meeting, attended by about 150 people, was preventing encounters with muggers and would-be criminals.

In a session on preventing crimes of opportunity, pointers included: Install deadbolt locks in doors; look around when walking to or from your car; don't take shortcuts through wooded areas or alleys; don't display large amounts of cash when shopping; try not to use automated teller machines at night; and report the presence of suspicious people in the neighborhood to the police.

The advice may seem to be common sense, but many need to hear it, said Officer Victor DiPaola, also from the Northern District. "There are so many things on our minds these days that we tend to forget about things that will keep us safe," he said.

Other sessions focused on strategies neighborhoods can use to keep out crime. "We want people to feel that they are not helpless," Ms. Sparks said.

For example, residents can start a Neighborhood Walkers group in which three to four people walk together through an 8- to 12-block area for an hour at a time, looking for criminal activity. Cellular One and Nokia each donated 10 cellular phones yesterday for walkers to use to call police, in addition to 10 cellular phones that the community corporation bought with $1,500 from a state grant.

Charles F. Peace III, 83, a retired businessman and former trustee of the Baltimore police and fire pension funds, said the forum offered excellent advice.

"It's high time all of us in these neighborhoods wake up to the reality that it's not going to get any better unless we get involved," said Mr. Peace, of North Baltimore. "We must be alert. We must know what is going on around us."

Pub Date: 3/31/96

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