Charles Village concerned about crime as burglaries and robberies rise

Jill DiMaura said she has never felt safer in her Charles Village neighborhood than she has since a shooting last summer at 28th and Barclay streets.

"The police have been like neighbors," DiMaura, 52, told local law enforcement officials and city council members Monday, at a meeting to update residents on public safety.

"I've been able to walk my dog at night," said DiMaura, a nine-year resident of Harwood, who was one of 70 people at the crime meeting. "It's been like a completely different neighborhood."

And police say they have a suspect in that case in custody for another crime.

But DiMaura said she worried that police would drift away as the non-fatal shooting fades from the public's memory.

"Can they please stay?" she asked in an interview. "It's the one thing that's fundamentally changed our neighborhood."

City Council members Carl Stokes and Mary Pat Clarke organized the meeting at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church. It came more than a year after a Johns Hopkins University researcher, 23-year-old Stephen Pitcairn, was robbed and murdered during a robbery on St. Paul Street.

That crime prompted several public safety summits in the community and calls for more patrols by Northern District police and expanded Hopkins security boundaries, so that Homewood campus police could patrol below 26th Street and east to Greenmount Avenue.

Residents now are joining crime walks, tracking court cases involving area crimes — and getting the attention of police, who are patrolling more often at hotspots in the area.

But residents are still jumpy about crime, and with reason.

Police department statistics show upticks in burglaries and robberies in Charles Village, compared to substantial drops in those categories in the Northern District as a whole, said Maj. Sabrina Tapp-Harper, Northern District commander.

She and Gregg Bernstein, the state's attorney for Baltimore City, were among the speakers at the public safety meeting.

Many residents complained about transgender prostitutes in the Old Goucher neighborhood in south Charles Village.

"We're out there every night," police officer Gloria Davis said.

And Dana Moore, former civic association president, cited "an unprecedented number" of breakings-and-enterings in the 3000 block ofGuilford Avenue.

Clarke said the meeting was important because the Pitcairn killing "brought us to our feet. It's time to take it to the next step."

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