Mount Vernon apartments to get police substation Owners create space after break-ins there

October 06, 1997|By Karen Masterson | Karen Masterson,SUN STAFF

Owners of a Mount Vernon apartment building, concerned about break-ins in the 40-unit dwelling, spent $2,000 on renovation to create a Central District police substation that will open today.

"The owners realized, instead of filling the building with more monitors, it's better to do this," said Gabriela Gaule, property manager for the eight-story building at 218 E. Preston St.

"I see it as a contribution to the community."

Police will answer calls, fill out paperwork and meet with community leaders at the substation.

It is Mount Vernon's second substation and the 16th in the Central District. Preston Associates, which owns the 99-year-old building, decided to sponsor the substation after a spate of petty crimes, stolen cars and burglaries on the block. In addition to the $2,000 renovation, Preston is donating the substation's commercial monthly rent of $500 and paying the estimated $200 for its monthly utility bills.

Gaule is convinced the substation will be worth the money.

In the past six months, three of the building's apartments were burglarized, all the fire extinguishers were stolen and other petty crimes occurred.

She said she hopes that police officers moving in and out of the building will deter the thieves from coming back.

Since 1994, substations have been opened around the city, mostly sponsored by businesses or community groups interested in an increased police presence to deter crime.

According to Lt. Harold Muncey, a field operations officer at police headquarters, all nine police districts have at least three substations. The Central District has 15 because of the large number of downtown businesses.

The Central District also has about 25 percent more police officers -- 250 compared with the standard 200 in other districts.

The substations -- each with one or two desks, a few chairs and a telephone -- save officers from having to travel back and forth between their beats and the Central District office at 500 E. Baltimore St.

"We wouldn't encourage people to run there for safety, because the officers don't keep regular hours," Muncey said.

But because officers can conduct some business in the substations, rather than at the district office, people in the surrounding neighborhoods see them a lot more often, he said.

Pub Date: 10/06/97

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