Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore’s mayor and police commissioner took to the streets Tuesday night, taking aim at crime in the city’s Inner Harbor.
Derek Valcourt walked with the mayor as she heard from police and businesses on curbing crime.
Their major concern is youth, specifically the large number of them who come down to the Inner Harbor and the few bad apples who create a lot of problems.
In the last few years, summers have brought huge groups of kids to the Inner Harbor, and with them has come some crime. Examples include some highly publicized beatings and fights and flash mob robberies like the one that happened at a 7-Eleven.
Local businesses say they’re starting to see some improvements.
“Before, you didn’t have a police officer on the corner. Now you have a police officer or two standing on a corner,” said Jason Curtis, Brookshire Suites.
And if not officers, definitely cameras. Police showed WJZ how they’re using Citiwatch cameras as a major tool to combat crime in the Inner Harbor. We saw video of kids committing crimes, cameras following them and cops catching them.
“We’ve done a lot of work to improve the technology,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
The mayor, who walked through parts of downtown and the Inner Harbor speaking to business owners and tourists about their concerns, says she’s bringing together a team to tackle problems.
“We have the sheriff’s office, school police, MTA police, we have our police, we have fire–all of us are responsible for making sure the harbor’s a safe place,” she said.
Police are enforcing curfews and pouring more resources into the area, including the use of school police officers.
Commissioner Anthony Batts says he has a message to youth who come to the Inner Harbor.
“We just will not tolerate dysfunctional behavior. We will not tolerate striking people, stealing things or taking things. Other than that, they have a right to come down and hang out and enjoy, just like everyone else does,” Batts said.
Police say they will be using those school resource police officers, not only to help identify some kids creating problems but also to follow through with those kids once they head back to school.
The city curfew is midnight, but officers will be starting to direct teens away from the harbor around 11 p.m. on summer nights.