Time to review these local safety and security resources

Part of a series of articles on safety and security in Bolton Hill written by Jim Prost, chair of BHCA’s Safety and Security Committee. If you have questions or want to participate in committee activities, contact safety@boltonhillmd.org.

Neighborhood residents may be unaware of safety and security information that is easily available. This article provides an overview of resources and tips from the BHCA website, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Midtown Community Benefits District.

BHCA website

The BHCA website provides summary information on safety and security under the “RESOURCES & TIPS” menu on the “Safety in the City” page. Key items:

  • Call 911 when you witness an incident that makes you feel unsafe or suspicious. If a minor crime has taken place and personal safety is not at risk, you can submit an online report through the city’s 311 system. If you encounter someone in distress, you can dial 711 and ask for Baltimore Crisis Response. You can also contact the BHCA Camera Network (cameranetwork@boltohillmd.org) to help determine if the incident was captured by a camera.
  • If you are a victim of crime or witness a crime that you believe affects the safety of the community, then you can inform the Bolton Hill Email Network (BHEN) by emailing BHEN@boltonhillmd.org.
  • If you encounter someone who is homeless, contact the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services in lieu of the police by calling 410-545-1862 or emailing homelessoutreach@baltimorecity.gov.
  • BHCA also offers useful and generally easy crime prevention tips as listed below.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings, particularly after dark.
  • Avoid walking with headphones or earbuds.
  • Lock doors and windows in your home, garage, shed and automobile.
  • Improve home lighting in vestibules and outside areas.
  • Report streetlight outages to 311.
  • Police ask that porch lights stay on at night.
  • Join BHCA’s Citizens on Patrol walk (every Thursday at 7:30 pm, meets on the 1300 block of Bolton).
  • Don’t leave valuables in sight in automobiles, yards and open garages.
  • Prevent package and mail theft by not having items left in a vestibule or on a porch when you are not home. Arrange for an alternative delivery date or location or notify a neighbor to pick it up. (Walgreens and Park Avenue Pharmacy will accept FedEx packages.)

Baltimore Police Department

The Baltimore Police Department website also contains useful information. If you see suspicious activity or a crime occurring, or if you are a victim of crime, file a police report. Suspicious activity may include:

  • Individuals looking into windows or trying to open windows or doors.
  • Individuals carrying weapons.
  • Salespersons asking unusual questions, if you are unsure of the purpose of their questions.
  • Callers asking for credit card or bank account numbers.
  • Individuals carrying property out of a building at unusual times.
  • Cars driving past repeatedly or parked for a long time with no one exiting.
  • Unusual odors coming from a building.
  • Vacant or occupied homes with high amounts of traffic, especially late at night.

You can file a police report by calling 911 or visiting police headquarters (Central District at 500 East Baltimore Street). You can also file online if it is not an emergency. When the report is submitted, you receive a temporary police report case number. If additional investigation is required, someone from the department will contact you. Once your report has been reviewed and approved, you will receive a Permanent Report Number, which must be used for follow-up actions and correspondence.

When submitting a report, make sure you provide detailed information – the nature of the incident, the time, the location of the incident, any witnesses information, and likely available videos. Descriptions of suspects, vehicles and property stolen or destroyed is extremely important.

General suspect description: age, sex, race, height, build. Suspect characteristics: hair, eye color, glasses, mustache/ beard/sideburns, complexion, tattoos, scars, amputations, speaking manner, accents, etc. Suspect clothing: hat, shirt, coat/outer garment, pants, shoes, jewelry, weapon, etc.

  • Vehicle description: type (minivan, truck, SUV, hatchback, etc.), model, year, exterior color, interior color, tinted windows, vehicle damage, license plate information, noises (muffler or engine).
  • Occupants/descriptions (driver, front seat, back seat).
  • Direction the vehicle came from; in what direction did the vehicle leave?

The police website also contains information on the CitiWatch camera program, behavioral health, community policing and engagement, the federal consent decree and crime statistics.

Midtown Community Benefits District

Midtown plays an important role in community security. Midtown coordinates initiatives on safety, homelessness and panhandling, provides event safety assistance and conducts patrols targeting hotspots based upon community concerns and crime trends.

Midtown is coordinating with the police with reporting graffiti on private property. (Graffiti on public property should be reported through the city’s 311 portal). If your property is tagged with graffiti, you can submit information to Midtown to be shared with the police and the State’s Attorney’s office.

Midtown’s website provides information about graffiti removal. Graffiti removal on exterior private property in Bolton Hill requires a go-ahead from CHAP. The Midtown Resource Guide provides CHAP Authorization to Proceed Application information. The Midtown guidelines for graffiti removal meet CHAP requirements.

Midtown also provides safety services and has an online service request form. Midtown will investigate service requests and take steps to resolve them, including broken glass, dumping, drug activity and loitering or panhandling.

Additional, detailed information on specific safety and security issues may be provided in the future in The Bulletin or on the BHCA website.

–Jim Prost