Reporting Rochelle Ritchie
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One Baltimore City neighborhood has more police now looking out for criminals, thanks for 12 new security cameras now up and running.
Rochelle Ritchie spoke with residents who say the eye in the sky is a comforting sight.
The new cameras will bring the total number of cameras in the city to well over 600. The mayor says the Citiwatch program has proven beneficial, dropping the crime rate by 25 percent.
Folks who live on Charles Street in the Midtown District, like Tony Edmonds, may notice a bit of a change—cameras on light posts.
“Everybody around here is going to be excited for it. I can’t see why they wouldn’t be,” said Edmonds.
With the help of a Department of Transportation crew member, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake helped install one of 12 cameras now going up.
“They will be actively monitored by law enforcement professionals,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Since the Citiwatch program started, crimes such as robberies and assaults have gone down 25 percent. In 2011, thanks to the program, more than 1,200 people were arrested, 145 of those for violent crimes.
While it’s helped, not all crime is eliminated.
People who live in this popular neighborhood say car break-ins are very popular, especially when high-end items like iPhones are left in plain sight.
“Certainly in this area, the cameras will help with that,” said Peter Merles.
Merles, director of the Midtown Community Benefits District, says serious crime has gone down in the neighborhood but petty crimes are still prevalent. With more security, he is hopeful that will change.
“The cameras are poised to see two blocks down the side streets, as well as up and down North Charles Street,” Merles said.
Despite the program’s success in helping to prevent crime, the homicide rate has gone up slightly since last year: a reminder that no matter how many officers are on the street and eyes in the sky, not all crime is preventable.
“My goal in this new year is with the new commissioner to have significant reduction in violent crime and the homicide rate,” Rawlings-Blake said.
The 12 cameras will run from Center Street to 20th Street.
The cameras are funded by grants from the Abell Foundation.