Neighborhood Patrol Launched in Federal Hill

| June 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

A group of residents in Federal Hill have started Federal Hill Neighborhood Patrol (FHNP), which hires private security to oversee a section of the neighborhood. The program, which is currently in a pilot phase, began on May 14th and could end in August if more funds are not raised.

FHNP has a four-person board with Ian Neuman as president, Amy Stern as vice president, Darren Anderson as treasurer, and Andrew Kittell as secretary. To date, 60 people have contributed to the patrol and it has raised $18,000.

FHNP hired Wolf Professional Security to patrol the neighborhood. An unarmed security officer – in a marked car with flashing lights – patrols the neighborhood from Light St. to the west, Covington St. to the east, Key Hwy. to the north and Cross St. to the south. This is only a portion of the Federal Hill neighborhood and a small portion of the Federal Hill Business District.

The security officer patrols the neighborhood and intervenes in certain situations, and will call the police if necessary. The security officer can also flash lights to disperse crowds and break up disturbances. Anderson said he encourages all the neighbors to wave the officer down and meet him.

FHNP is not affiliated with the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association (FHNA). FHNA neither opposes nor supports the effort. FHNA President Beth Whitmer told SouthBMore.com the Association has remained uninvolved due to the fact that it only covers a third of the neighborhood and there are varying thoughts about it in the community. She also said FHNA is concerned about potential liability.

On the FHNP website, Neuman said: “When an assault and carjacking happened on our street on September 16, 2020, right on the heels of a shooting and murder in Federal Hill Park on September 13, my wife and I and several neighbors decided to investigate what could be done.”

He added: “We found out that there is currently a private security company that provides nightly patrols on a limited basis in Otterbein; the Guilford neighborhood has been doing a more extensive nightly security patrol since 1992, and the Waterfront Coalition uses private security to patrol parts of Fells Point. We held discussions with each of these groups, and each of them reported both a subjective sense of improvement in crime in the patrolled areas and objective data to that effect.”

He also said: “In my forty-two years living in Baltimore City and Federal Hill, I cannot remember a time when crime was more of a problem, nor when the Police Department and Baltimore leadership have had fewer resources and less manpower to assist in addressing it.”

He noted an increase in assaults and carjackings.

“I’ve lived here 20 years, and it’s not the same as it used to be,” Anderson told SouthBMore.com.

A large problem noted by FHNP and FHNA is the dirt bikes and late night partying that has taken place many nights at Federal Hill Park.
“Most of us live near Federal Hill Park, we like the activity, but this isn’t an entertainment district,” said Anderson.

Whitmer said the activity at the park, including dirt bikes riding through the park and up and down its hills, is the biggest problem for FHNA at this time. She also noted drag racing that takes place on Warren St. and cars driving fast the wrong way down one-way streets. Anderson noted that many cars have been double parking in the middle of the street while playing loud music.

Whitmer said FHNA is hoping to get speed bumps installed on Warren St., improved lighting around the park, and additional cameras.

“There are a few positive things going on, but it will take more than that,” said Whitmer.

“Dirt bikes are a challenge because they are so mobile,” said Anderson, noting the security officer can ask the riders to move along if they are just sitting on their bikes.

Anderson said he feels there are less disturbances since the patrol began. He shared some highlights with SouthBMore.com and on social media of the daily reports which show yelling matches that have been broken up by the security officer and a situation where the officer helped a female who had fallen down and was having trouble breathing by calling for an ambulance.

Anderson told SouthBMore.com FHNP was started when a group of neighbors got together last year and started an online survey about the crime issues in the neighborhood and the interest in private security. He said they had many positive responses, kept the effort going, and eventually raised the funds for the pilot program.

Anderson said FHNP’s patrols cost about $6,000 a month, and the pilot program has the funding needed for three months. He said donations are continuing to come in, but the group is starting more aggressive fundraising. Residents can donate through links at FHNP’s website or by contacting the organization to drop off checks.

“This is a pilot program because we only have so much money. If people see the value in this, we will need more contributions to keep it going,” said Anderson.

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
×