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By Kimberly Eiten

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Stores and restaurants in Federal Hill say it’s time to call in more muscle.

A group of businesses are considering hiring private security to help customers feel safe.

Business owners say the city’s spike in violence is bad for business, so they want to double down on security by hiring private guards to supplement police.

The saying goes: Perception is everything.

Business owners in Federal Hill will tell you it’s also their paycheck.

“This public perception of, it’s not safe, is just not true,” said Hank Shofer, with Shofer’s Furniture.

Store owners say after a 2017 of spiking violence, the image of an unsafe Baltimore has driven customers away. Even from the safest areas and the most established shops.

“We don’t want it to ruin our business down here,” Shofer said.

Shofer’s Furniture, a 104-year-old family business, is hiring private security for the first time in more than a century.

Banding together with other retailers to buy the neighborhood some added protection.

The president of nonprofit organization, Federal Hill Main Street, says the plan is to hire guards to patrol near bars and stores.

Copycatting Fell’s Point, which muscled up during the holiday season.

The Waterfront Partnership is now picking up a $200,000-a-year price tag for a team of guards there.

“As they begin to look at how they secure their neighborhoods and communities, my goal is to have them all working with the police department, so we can all be on the same page,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh.

Pugh says as she prioritizes the fight on violent crime, she supports the push for private security.

Retailers just hope it’s enough to push people back through their store doors.

“I would urge people to come downtown and see what they’re missing,” Shofer added.

The next step is proposals from private security firms, and then raising the cash to cover the tab, which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The idea is to have a private security team in place by April 1.

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