Fight crime by helping city neighborhoods

May 30, 2012

The Sun's recent "Your turn" commentary regarding downtown crime ("A 10th floor view of crime," May 26) speaks the truth. We certainly need more such pieces to properly understand Baltimore's crime problems and to address them. What we are hearing from the city's mayor repeatedly is that there is no real problem, that the crime situation in downtown Baltimore is distorted and that "statistics" show that violent crime is down.

But who really believes her? We kid ourselves if we believe so. We don't want to go to where we are outraged with the crime problem. It is uncomfortable. It saps us of our energy. It accomplishes nothing! But where is the middle ground that we should be heading? We are all intelligent people. We should realize that the solution needs to start with us. If we continue to deal with crime situations just on the surface, we cover up the facts that there are roots to these crime problems that lie unexamined and will forever foment and fester until the conditions are ripe enough again to erupt — whether on St. Patrick's Day, Independence Day orNew Year's Eve.

The crime that we are seeing downtown stems from systemic causes. That's not what we want to hear but pressuring Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blaketo place additional police downtown will only work so long before the situation worsens again. Perhaps, it is time to give more importance to this downtown crime Issue and less to proposed entertainment events such as the Baltimore Grand Prix or expanded gambling and more entertainment districts.

I think that strengthening city neighborhoods from within is the best way to deal with crime problems. It can be done, but it needs to be understood. I recently was involved with the Harris Creek Watershed Project that involved 17 neighborhoods from Clifton Park down to the Inner Harbor at Canton. This was a diverse neighborhood coalition but it came together to clean up large amounts of trash that had been accumulating in the backyards of vacant houses. It was obvious that different city services were being provided depending on where you lived.

I think that it about time that Baltimore citizens get more involved and more demanding of our public officials to more fully address that which is being presented to us as the crime problem downtown and around the Inner Harbor. The place to start is with ourselves and making sure that all neighborhoods are treated fairly.

Raymond D. Bahr, Baltimore

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