Police station kiosk considered for Fells Point Facility would be similar to Lexington Market's

September 24, 1997|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Visitors to Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood could soon be greeted by city police officers stationed at a Japanese-inspired kiosk in Broadway Square.

Maj. Timothy J. Longo, commander of the Southeastern District, said the police substation would help officers monitor streets they cannot always patrol.

Known as a "koban," the structure would be modeled after the community policing centers that have been successful in Tokyo and replicated in downtown Baltimore.

"The kiosk would help us establish a permanent police presence in Fells Point," Longo said. "It would provide visibility and accessibility to the pedestrians in the area."

The community policing center, adopted by the Central District, is being lauded by residents of Fells Point who say public acts of indiscretion, drunken driving and underage drinking blight the waterfront community.

"I think it's a great idea," said Jennifer Etheridge, who has lived on Lancaster Street for four years. "It will help deter crime in the area, from panhandling to drunk and disorderly conduct, and it will make the residents feel more secure knowing there's an officer stationed at the square."

Longo could not say how much money would be needed to build the koban. A substation in the Central District, at the northwest corner of West Lexington and North Howard streets, cost taxpayers about $125,000. Staffed 12 hours a day, the bulletproof blue box is equipped with a computer, a telephone, four television monitors and 16 video cameras that keep a watchful eye on a six-block area around Lexington Market.

The Fells Point koban would include similar technology, but would probably look much different, Longo said.

"I would like to put something in the square that has the same character as the buildings that already exist in the area, so that the kiosk would not only serve a practical purpose, but would also be aesthetically pleasing," Longo said.

Police records show that burglaries, assaults, shootings and theft have dropped nearly 50 percent at Lexington Market since the substation opened there in June 1995.

"The crime rate in Fells Point has decreased 38 percent over the last year," Longo said. "We'd like to see a continuation in the drop in crime, and have a positive affect on the perception of the area."

Longo has proposed that Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier hire 16 to 20 officers to patrol the area bounded by Caroline, Wolfe, Aliceanna and Thames streets. One foot officer and one patrol officer monitor the area during the week. As many as eight officers are assigned to Fells Point on weekends.

"We need to increase our presence in the area now, rather than later," said Longo, who has 176 officers under his command. "If we wait until the expansion of Inner Harbor East, we'll be playing catch-up."

Pub Date: 9/24/97

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