Greektown gets security cameras in spreading effort to reduce crime

Neighborhood officer says robberies are down since surveillance began

July 29, 1999|By La Quinta Dixon | La Quinta Dixon,SUN STAFF

After two years of negotiating with Baltimore police and the public works department, Greektown residents finally have the security they have been asking for -- security cameras.

City officials joined Greektown Community Development Corp. members yesterday in officially launching two closed-circuit surveillance cameras on Eastern Avenue in the southeast Baltimore community.

Part of the city's 3-year-old effort to police streets via remote surveillance, the oval cameras hang from poles at Macon and Oldham streets, said Col. John Gavrilis of the criminal investigations bureau, who attended yesterday's announcement at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. The cameras can scan 360 degrees for 20 blocks.

Cameras will be monitored by 15 Citizens on Patrol volunteers at the Southeastern precinct.

"Now that the cameras are on, we hope it will facilitate the security," said Helen Johns, president of the community development group. "We're trying to keep [Greektown] from regressing and do something before it gets too late."

Volunteers will be trained to report suspicious activity, which police can investigate.

"If we see some illegal activity, we may not be able to arrest them on the spot, but we can issue a warrant and come knocking on their door," said Southeastern precinct Officer Nicholas Louloudis.

Police have arrested people for loitering and urinating in public using the Eastern Avenue cameras, which were installed last month, Louloudis said.

"The crime rate in the business community has declined. We used to have about one street robbery a week, and we have had none so far," Louloudis said.

Louloudis, 35, is Greektown's outreach officer and has patrolled his boyhood neighborhood for 12 years.

The Eastern Avenue surveillance camera project was funded by a $200,000 grant from Dome Corp. and the city. Dome Corp. is an affiliate of Johns Hopkins Bayview Research Campus, near where the cameras are installed.

Similar cameras are planned on McElderry Street, Decker Avenue, and Jefferson Street in East Baltimore, Gavrilis said.

Police report a 33 percent decrease in crime in the Howard Street area since 1996, when the city began installing 32 cameras there.

Pub Date: 7/29/99

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