Safe Harbor

Our View: A Troubling Incident Saturday Was The Work Of A Few Bad Apples

April 29, 2009

No one could have predicted the mammoth crowds that descended on Baltimore's Inner Harbor on Saturday evening for the first really warm weekend of spring. So many visitors may not even have noticed dozens of teenagers running along Pratt Street and through the Harborplace pavilions and the outdoor amphitheater.

Only later did passers-by hear that two boys who encountered the group suffered stab wounds and were taken to the hospital. Police, who initially seem to have been caught off balance by the attacks, moved quickly to quell the disturbance and within hours two suspects were in custody.

As unfortunate as such incidents are, no one should take what happened to mean the Inner Harbor isn't safe for visitors and their families. On any given day, upward of 160,000 people wend their way around the harbor, yet violent incidents of any kind are extremely rare. The area is patrolled not only by city police but also by private building security guards, a network of city and privately owned video surveillance cameras and the 125 downtown hospitality guides who stand ready to notify authorities of anything untoward. The overlapping layers of security make the area one of safest places in the city.

The harbor was designed to be Baltimore's front yard, a place where people could gather for events large and small and take pride in the city where they live. Last weekend was an example of that civic spirit: There was a promotion for a cruise line, a baseball game, street festivals in neighboring communities and other sociable events.

The unseasonable warmth brought people out in droves, and they clearly enjoyed themselves immensely. The few bad apples who caused trouble were the exception, not the rule. Still, police are accelerating the summer deployment schedule by putting more officers on the street earlier in the season.

Strolling the harbor promenade on a balmy afternoon is one of the delights of city living. Knowing police are putting in extra effort to ensure it's safe makes it all the more sweet.

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