Downtown patrols get mixed reception Several workers say they feel more secure

others are skeptical

March 07, 1998|By Sarah Pekkanen | Sarah Pekkanen,SUN STAFF

Downtown workers reacted with a mixture of praise, indifference and suspicion yesterday to Peter Angelos' plan to arm the streets surrounding his Charles Center tower with extra police officers.

Some professionals interviewed said they would be more inclined to linger downtown after work to dine and socialize -- a response Angelos and other business owners were hoping for -- while others glumly predicted they would end up footing the bill for the heightened security.

"You don't get anything for nothing," said Ilene Long, a 50-plus banking administrator. "Somewhere along the line, he's got to get the money whether it's [through higher-priced] baseball tickets or parking."

Angelos, a lawyer and majority owner of the Orioles, has drafted 14 other downtown property owners to pitch in $500 to $700 a month each for the five-officer patrol in a 20-block area west of St. Paul Street between Saratoga and Redwood streets.

Angelos is covering the bulk of the start-up cost of the roughly $100,000-a-year initiative.

Workers are feeling the effects of the week-old program, said an officer who has patrolled on several privately funded shifts.

"Before this started, people were afraid to stand out in front of their buildings even to wait for people to pick them up," said Officer Joseph Hlafka, a 29-year police veteran. "Now it seems they're much more relaxed."

Jonathan Davidov, 27, a financial adviser for Legg Mason Inc., echoed colleagues who said they were more comfortable leaving the office after dark. He also noted that the program can't be criticized for drawing officers away from crime-ridden sections of the city.

"If they're just talking about people who would otherwise be at home, they're not taking them away from another area," he said. "Angelos should be commended for taking the initiative and solving the problem quickly."

Davidov and several co-workers said they would consider spending evenings out closer to the office, rather than rushing to restaurants and pubs in more secure areas such as Federal Hill.

Cherry Hill resident Martha Scott, 49, who was standing near Charles Center, said cash-carrying citizens would feel safer conducting business during daylight hours. "There are lots of ATMs down here, and people have to make withdrawals for business, and they don't want to be mugged," she said.

Others were less lavish with praise for Angelos.

"I think if it's his money, it's his prerogative," said trial attorney Doug Scheller, 44, who said he rarely spends evenings downtown and doesn't plan to change his habits.

Pub Date: 3/07/98

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