There is a group that meets every month and shares information on crime statistics, recent notable incidents, recent arrests and problem areas.
The Southeast District Police Community Relations Council meets on the first Monday of every month to discuss these very things.
At the Feb. 12 meeting in which Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake met with 500 residents concerned about a crime spike in Southeast Baltimore, several parties mentioned Community Relations Council meetings as a way for residents to get involved.
Joyce Adamski, now into her second three-year term as president of the SEDPCRC, could not believe how many people at that big meeting were unaware of her group’s monthly meetings.
“I want people to know that we do have these meetings,” she said. “It’s not just a social thing…We actually talk about issues that make a difference.”
Here’s what gets discussed:
Crime and statistics
Standard at every SEDPCRC meeting is the “State of the District,” a briefing given by the Southeast District commander that usually includes statistics on specific crimes, such as robberies and burglaries, as compared to previous years.
“You get the statistics first-hand, and they’re accurate,” said Adamski.
Additionally, the State of the District includes information about crime trends in the Southeast. Burglaries in Canton have been a topic, for example. At one meeting, then-commander Major William Davis discussed a long-haired individual who was using a handgun to commit robberies in the Fell’s Point and Upper Fell’s Point area.
The police also share information about arrests, or progress they have made in problem areas.
Advice from police officers is a mainstay of SEDPCRC meetings.
Major Davis’s favorite piece of advice was “Don’t feed the bears.” In other words, do not leave objects inside of your vehicle to tempt thieves. He also used to advise citizens against talking on cell phones while walking the streets. He told residents to call 911, not 311, for “whenever you want a police officer to come,” including for reasons such as seeing suspicious people in one’s neighborhood.
If “you don’t get the service that you feel you should be getting,” Davis always said, “then call 911 back and ask to speak to a supervisor.”
If that doesn’t work, he said to call back again and ask for that supervisor’s supervisor.
“I think Major Davis gave good advice,” said Adamski. “I think Acting Major Garrity will give good advice too.” Acting Major Deron Garrity is Davis’ successor.
Q & A
The SEDPCRC meetings also afford residents an opportunity to ask questions.
“People come out and they want to know about crime in their areas and answers to their questions,” said Adamski.
For this portion of the meeting, both police and Adamski caution residents not to ask about specific locations and addresses, but to keep questions general. At the end of the meeting, residents may meet with officers—either from the district’s command staff or Neighborhood Services Unit—to discuss specific problems.
“This is the only place I can think of where the command staff and Neighborhood Services are on hand one-on-one to answer questions,” said Adamski.
Most meetings feature a guest speaker. Recent guests have included Commissioner Batts, State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein and the Liquor Board’s Acting Executive Secretary Douglas Paige. Guests typically speak for a couple minutes, then take questions from residents.
Officer of the Month
At every meeting, an officer is honored for good police work. Adamski noted that while the Police Department are best informed as to who does exceptional police work, community members may be best qualified to determine which officers have highly positive influences in the neighborhoods. For this reason, she said that moving forward, the Officer of the Month may be chosen by the Southeast District one month and the SEDPCRC the next.
The next SEDPCRC meeting is Monday, March 3. Acting Major Garrity will be the guest speaker.
by Erik Zygmont