Journal Entries for October, 2005
click here for archives of previous entries
Halloween Day, noon: Incredibly pretty afternoon. 72 degrees with a light breeze. Doesn't get much better than that.
Would be a good day for the work on Pedestal Garden's gates to resume. Nothing so far. They just hang there, doing nothing. Might have been good to have them working when the welfare check cycle begins again this week. Dealing by the weekend will be in full swing especially if this weather holds. Ah, but we know security at Pedestal Gardens is not a priority to management.
Security is still only visiting occasionally, not stationed, across the street. I wonder where they hang out most of the time together. That needs to change.
An officer apologized for the heat being up too high the other day while he waited for me to finish fixing the running toilet. I felt bad I'd said anything but noticed it hasn't been left cranked up again. I appreciate that. We'll be sure to keep it at least 68 this winter.
Restocked the bottled waters in the fridge.
Found this cute note on one case. Thank you Carl. The fuzz ain't using as much water now that the weather is cooled, but they still appreciate it. We're well stocked for the next week or so. Back in the hot chocolate mode. We have three boxes of instant cocoa thanks to Susan. I have been meaning to find a hot water dispenser/cooler to make that faster, but mircrozapping the water for two minutes works fine, too. They still use your microwave every day Julie and Mike. When I'm reminded of this, I realize we do have help here still and both the officers and I appreciate it.
Vaughn will be giving out candy again this evening. I recall four years ago when we first did it. Only ones on the block. Moms and kids seemed confused, but pleasantly surprised. It was our counter to "greens out, get your greens," as the dealers yelled while walking around blatantly passing out vials of crack. Reminds me of the time an older gentleman stopped to thank us for putting up Christmas lights. "First time I've seen lights here in many years."
Update, 1:15pm: The electricians are back! Maybe this will be the day the gates do something.
Thursday, 3pm, October 27: Went to check on the pit stop downstairs this morning, as always. Found the heat cranked all the way up and the room at 78 degrees. Troubling. Apparently some officers don't realize someone's paying the gas bill and it ain't the city. I don't mean to be cheap, but we get very little help with the substation. It's mostly us. Don't know what to do to fix that problem, but we sure can't afford to waste heat in the substation for the comfort of officers who are there 20 minutes tops at a time. I think 68 is adequate. That's what we live with. BGE's bill is frightening enough without baking an empty room.
Work continues in earnest on the Pedestal Gardens gate systems. Seems very complex. I find the wiring arrangement fascinating.
I see a passcard terminal and keypad. Looks very vulnerable. A hammer would do it in. I wonder how long it will last. I'm sure property management is expecting that. Then they'll say "look, we've done what we could." followed by their mantra "we cannot control the drug problem ourselves." No, they can't. And aren't expected to. They are only expected to control it on their own property. They continue to fail miserably.
Watched the guy with the big church talking to someone about the fence system today. They seemed in agreement. I know he's only concerned that if the gate system is put into effect, his parishioners won't be able to park there. Perhaps they've worked out some way to compromise the fence system. I use that word advisedly. If the church is allowed to park there at all, it will compromise the security system we were promised. I sure hope that wasn't what the head nodding and handshake meant. I'm sorry if the AME Payne Churchgoers need to walk a block. They are visitors here. The safety of those who live here should be paramount. Not the convenience of the rich, spoiled church members.
See a problem with the new security at PG. Surprise, huh? They only walk together. There's not one officer here and one in the courtyard, connected by radio in case one needs backup, as it should be. These people simply walk together, even all three of them.
Three people doing the work of one. Seems consistent with federal tax dollars at work. When they leave, whatever was going on resumes. It's like when marked squad cars come by. For that time, everything stops. The moment they leave, it's back on.
While seeing them on foot patrol, more visible, is a vast improvement over the previous security who were seldom seen at all, this approach is not controlling the property. To do that: One officer has to be at 1715-1717 Madison Avenue at all times. He or she has to have their eyes open and ask questions. Be awake. Be able to make arrests on the grounds and near by. This has been proven time and time again. It has been promised repeatedly by the property management and HUD. Yes, I find it amazing that 23 apartments cannot be safe without an armed supervisor, but that's the case here and no one who knows questions that.
If the new security people are afraid to man 1715-1717 Madison Avenue alone, even with a gun, what does that say for the safety of tenants and their neighbors?
Wednesday, 2pm, October 26: I've never said Pedestal Gardens was the only irresponsible landlord on the block. God knows there was Clarence Weston and his thriving crack house next door at 1704. And now we have 1700 Madison Avenue. For more than a year, we've seen repeated evictions, repeated visits by the police and times when the police should have visited, as when there've been knock down drag out domestic brawls and the regular selling from the front steps on the Wilson side.
Last Monday night, something big happened at 1700 Mad Ave ...
I've learned to like the lights, even with the glare and constant whir of the generator. I was frustrated that it didn't seem to phase the dealers after a bit. Then I realized, it does scare the customers. That must be the philosophy. After all, I've watched dealer boys count their cash under our own floodlight with no concern. More money than most make in a month. I've watched dealers count out inventory under this light. But I've also seen cars turn the corner, see the light and quickly back up a one way street in fear. It's helping, but is this the permanent solution?
"Please let us in," they asked the guy at the window on the third floor.
At least six squad cars I could see (often more cars than this sector has), the paddy wagon and then an ambulance. This sort of response usually indicates a gun involved. Haven't heard what it was about yet. I suppose it doesn't matter. The cause is an absentee landlord who doesn't give a damn. Same problem all over the city.
Speaking of the devil, I sent an email to HUD yesterday saying " The fence [the costly new one at Pedestal Gardens across the street] is surely pretty and the new security is a bit better, but the gates are doing nothing, just sitting there, open." How does that accomplish anything?
This afternoon I see this out the front door ...
Work on the gates resumes. Coincidence? I'm sure that's what Don and Richard of the property management firm would want us to think.
Watching the free for all of dealers walking and driving into and out of the property through pretty but open gates has been aggravating. Yet again, the current property management firm of Pedestal Gardens has had to be dragged to do the right thing. I'm ready to see that firm just dragged away. They've repeatedly proven they deserve nothing less..
Yesterday our country passed a milestone: more than 2,000 dead American soldiers in Iraq. I realize that some readers, including some officers do not agree with my opinion of this war. They choose to see me as unpatriotic for not supporting it. They confuse that position with lack of support for our troops. I'll say again, it's not that I have anything but the utmost respect for our troops, as I do for our police officers here at home. It's just I see 2000+ dead soldiers and infinite money directed at a problem that is not our own, another effort with no end in sight, while we have too few police officers and rampant drug terrorism on our own streets. That just makes no sense to me. End of this installment of "my two cents."
Friday, noon, October 21: Not everything I spy out my window here on Mad Ave makes me mad ...
Tuesday, 2pm, October 18: Last week, work on the driveway gate at Pedestal Gardens was done, though it's not functional still.
Watched the fuel truck refill the generator floodlights a bit ago. I guess it's staying. I wonder how long.
Lost my temper finally yesterday about 1704's rear door being open, flapping in the breeze. Careless real estate salesmen. I've got the gate wired shut and there's nasty debris in the yard to discourage the crackheads and prostitutes, but we don't need more rats moving in. I couldn't lock it from the inside because I don't have a key to the front. Was considering nailing it shut. Instead, I emailed the mayor ...
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 8:37 PM
Cc: Vaughn at RM; Dixon, Sheila; Mitchell, Keiffer;
Ken Kupfer; Adam Meister
1704 Madison Avenue
Good morning, Your Honor.
I need the the back door of
1704 Madison Avenueclosed and deadbolted now.
I have asked several people in Housing to take care of this but consistent with their amazingly irresponsible stewardship of this building, nothing has been done. We had to board it up originally. We have kept it that way. Little did we realize that the city would be as irresponsible a landlord as the crack house slum landlord we chased away.
I realize there's been a shakeup in Housing. Mr. Levy and Pipik going. But the city's handling of 1704 has been an embarrassment that seems to find no end.
If I must hire a team to secure this building, I will. We called the police again just a couple days ago. And we will take it to court, if for nothing more than to demonstrate the stupid handling of this house by the city, as an example of "Project 5000"? Just try me.
We have been more than exemplary citizens here. Worked hard. The city has failed this block and returned our efforts with nothing but contempt. Including allowing the crack market here to thrive for years.
It seems we are zoned for crack and heroin. I'd like to appeal that. Who do we apply to? -Bryan"
I know it's the "emayor" but at least she replied quickly ...
-------- Original Message --------
1704 Madison Avenue
Fri, 21 Oct 2005 10:50:56 -0400
Mayor Martin O'Malley <email@example.com>
: Eric Booker at Housing Inspections Bryanhas sent this job to the field for action asap.
No reference in the reply to our appeal about being zoned for crack and heroin sales. Maybe they thought I was kidding.
Obnoxious is the only word to describe the PA system at Pedestal Gardens. You hear clicking, static, throat clearing and "testing, testing 1,2,3" and then garbled words that resound through houses across the street, up and down the block. It's got to be deafening to those who live there. Exactly what right does Pedestal Garden's management have to disturb the peace so? It reminds me of the PA systems you hear in movie prison yards. I'm sure that's how the residents, feel, too. PG's going for the prison ambiance in the neighborhood now. All we need is coils of barbed wire on top of the new fence. We already have the prison floodlights, courtesy of the city. I'd rather just have an armed security guard with his eyes open as we've been repeatedly promised. That's the only real solution short of the wrecking ball.
Update, 1:30pm: I'm listening now as the city board up crew hammers boards across the fire escape to 1704. Apparently someone had torn off the boards up there.
boarded up tight ... again
They called earlier. "Is that east or west Madison Street? Our crew can't find it. They're looking at a parking lot."
It's AVENUE. That's OK, that's a common mistake. If you'd just get the key to the front door, walk to the back and throw the deadbolt we'd be set. Mike Bainum's office must have the key. It's a SCOPE door that was put on after we complained about the boards being removed by buyers this spring.
"That's too much for us. We're just the boarding crew. We'll board it up tight." They're part of the same Housing Department.
"OK. Just so long as it's secure, thank you."
I called back and suggested they reboard 421 Laurens on the other side of the block while they're here, too. The truck just rolled up that way. One less place to shoot up or do business.
Today, the pedestrian gates are going in.
So curious to see how this is going to work. Will it be the solution or a waste of time and money?
Have seen the new security a bit less than at first, but still I see them on foot patrol every once in a while, so I'm assuming they're making regular rounds. A couple residents of the 1715 building tell me they're seeing security more too. None of us has seen any interdiction, I doubt they've made any arrests as the special police used to, but at least the more conspicuous presence helps.
Like the uniformed city officers, they seldom see the dealer traffic in and out of Pedestal or in the corner next to the school. That takes unmarked cars, plain clothed officers and nosey neighbors.
However, the past couple days the market simmered down a bit. Checks are long gone. The full moon is waning. Ebb and flow of the market or some other efforts? I don't know.
Ken and Carl brought some waters and other supplies for the substation over the weekend. The help is always appreciated. Ken and his neighbor got to chat with an officer who stopped by. I always like it when those who help, see who they're helping. I think it's good for the attitude of neighbors and officers alike. It's always good to feel appreciated, and that's what the police pit stop has always been about.
Saturday, 4pm, October 15: The nice warm sunny day, the full moon last night, the birds chirping, the drug market thriving.
For a while these boys were blocking traffic. Those not buying, had to honk to get past them. Then, a squad car drove through and 30 seconds later ...
(the person leaning against the car was waiting for someone)
I really don't think these boys would have dispersed so quick when they saw a squad car if they weren't playing the game, do you? I'm thinking I should just walk out there and tell the guys "hey, if you just deal out of my sight, it won't bother me and I won't bother you. How 'bout you walk a block over and do it in front of Keiffer Mitchell's (our city councilman's house?) or just two blocks up in front of Police Commissioner Hamm's? They obviously don't care."
You'd think the councilman and commissioner would take a real interest in their own neighborhood. Instead, they seem to have the "live and let live" philosophy that's been so helpful (read nasty sarcasm) here and to vast areas of the city. I'm sure taking too much interest in their own blocks would seem selfish, but none at all seems downright strange?
A while back, Central District Major Shepperd said they "were trying new things" here. Other than the noisy floodlights from dusk to 4am, I don't see anything new now, except more flagrant dealing. Night and day. The floodlamps made an impact at first, but with nothing else, it's no surprise the dealers have quickly adapted. They know impotence (or lack of concern is it?) when they see it.
The former Central District Major, now Lt. Col. Skinner, revived something called the Community Council. It was a monthly meeting of local community association leaders and the general public. We discussed specific problems. He answered real questions. He also organized a couple "Crime Orientation Tours" I chronicled here. A bus tour for those who wanted to see the whole central district picture. A real eye opener it was, too. Major Skinner was interested in community input. I saw him at three meetings with HUD personnel regarding the Pedestal Gardens Problem, during his near two year term here.
That's changed. I stopped getting invitations to the meetings, as did others. Then there's been a normal summer hiatus in the meetings, but I notice there are no announcements of upcoming meetings. The current excuse is lack of venue. I don't call Major Shepperd on the central district major's cell phone anymore. Used to be when I'd notice trends, I'd call. When he first started, a day or two after the new commissioner visited here, he met with us in the substation. Seemed interested and engaged. He seems annoyed with me now. I ask tough questions. I plead. I do get strident (for which I've apologized). I demand answers. I'm not one of his bosses apparently, though I consider citizens to be both his boss and his boss's boss. Even the presidential (oops, I mean gubernatorial candidate's) boss.
It's true. I won't be satisfied with anything less than the end to rampant dealing on this block of Madison Avenue. I don't care if it's "always been this way" or "has been this way for 30 years."
If it can't be stopped or intentionally isn't important to the powers that be, I just want to be told. We deserve as much.
Just saw a couple guys from the new security firm, Butler. The dealers have backed off commuting to their stashes in 1715-1717 for the time being. Butler is new. The dealers don't know what to expect of them. I don't either, though I was impressed by the two I met the other night. One day I see consistent patrols, the next they're as hard to find as the off duty officers were. Big difference in whose on. Would be nice if Butler management would sit them all down and explain things: the property management firm at Pedestal Gardens and HUD have both repeatedly promised neighbors and tenants that building would have it's own officer. Yes, a building of only 23 apartments rife with dealing without a dedicated officer. What does that tell you?
Frankly, I don't care how bad things are elsewhere at PG. Well, I do, actually. If things are so bad at the other buildings of PG the security is too busy there to attend the obvious problems here, then isn't it time to close the whole damned thing down? For tenants and neighbor's safety alike. *uck the property management company and owners. We're talking survival. I don't think they understand that or care.
Picked up another few dozen stones in the yard this afternoon. The neighborhood kids (like 6 to 12 years old) seem to be enjoying pelting the substation and house with stones. I don't leave the dogs out there alone so they can't attack them. Don't know whether it's directed to the cops or us. Likely both. Doesn't do much to help my spirits.
I don't like to be consistently down in my writings here. Hopelessness is not appealing. Though the stats indicate several hundred regular readers still. One of us should give up eventually. Hmmm, let me see. Takes some thought. The people who use the alley for dumping have only dumped a truckload or two lately. The men and women who see the alley as their personal toilet are trying to do it off our property and out of my sight more. The screaming arguments at the apartments across the alley have been quieter, at least late at night. The newest graffiti in front of the house now is "blank and blank, forever." Better than drug gang brandings.
I'm still so seriously considering a branding of my own: "for sale." If it weren't for finding homes for the dogs here, I'd say this place would already have been sold. In this case, "Coldwell Banker" will be the same message to the locals as "we surrender."
Regarding my entry of October 7: No, Bob and Barbara, I was not likening our efforts here to those of the troops in Iraq when I wrote "But it's been a long tour of duty here trying to be an occupying force for good." There is no comparison. I don't near so often fear being shot or blown up in this war zone. I have nothing but respect for our troops and their dedication. I vehemently disagree with the decision to invade Iraq. That is no contradiction. I adamantly insist we must work on our own problems: Like our own citizens living with drug terrorism. Gee, maybe if we tended our own business seriously, others would respect America more. Ya think?
Friday afternoon, October 14: Dealers are flourishing again on Madison at Wilson. They take the business more often out of my line of sight now, closer to the corner of Eutaw and down to McCulloh. But last night they had a business conference inside the new fence of Pedestal Gardens, in plain view of our house and the cameras there. No security was seen. I'm sure they had a lookout posted. After the meeting wrapped up, three of the guys got in their older Lincoln and three walked out of the compound to their posts along Wilson. They're being rather brazen again. Even with the floodlamps.
When the city police or the new security team come by, they scatter for a bit. I've been seeing bewildered customers looking for them, concerned by the floodlamps. Perhaps the floodlamps are working now to advertise the market. "Just look for me on the school side where the big floodlamps are. Don't worry about the lights." The dealers like to hang out on a fence in the dark in the school parking lot. Walking to the market is a tense undertaking now.
The gates remain undone on the long promised fence system. Pedestal Gardens property management is in no rush to get that done. Always have had to be dragged to do the right thing. They've proven they don't care beyond the money they make. The rest is just to appease HUD and quiet the neighbors.
Vaughn called to report the half dozen or so loitering dealers. They had gotten out of hand, even in the chilly rain. Reminded me of the dealing three years ago. I don't bother 911 or the new Major much anymore. It's gotten us no place and I see little hope the new commissioner means to make good on his promise months ago, when he was here with Delegate Jones, to "fix it." Apparently he thinks that fence will make all the difference, or so he'd like us to believe, too.
If there's a passcard entry system and cameras in place on the front doors now, which do nothing to slow the flow of dealers, what good is a passcard system on outside gates? When Vaughn called, the 911 operator didn't ask for a complete description of all the suspects, she just asked "where are they stashing the drugs?" I told him to say "obviously in Pedestal Gardens apartments at 1715-1717 Madison Avenue," as was proved yet again in January. And is plainly seen almost every night by anyone who watches.
I think the drug squad that was so effective with federal agents then is undermanned now. I don't see them or their busts anywhere near like we used to. Uniformed officers have no chance of being effective against dealers, especially if they don't get out of their cars and talk to suspects. As always, when they use the facilities here, they do interrupt the market though. We hear the "whoo hoo, whoo hoo," everyone scatters, then we see a squad car. Just as it was when the reporter from the City Paper spent so much time here researching her article. Sad that we're not much better off now, even with the closing of the crack house next door.
And don't get me started on the bumbling bureaucracy we led that house into. It's still not over. That'll be another entry of comedy and frustration. And Housing now has decided to come after us. We do need to repair our windows. I don't like the remaining boards either, but I like broken glass even less. We're trying to restore the original wooden windows. A slow process when you're trying to make them rock and bottle proof. We're obviously the block snitches and providing a pit stop for cops in back paints a big target on the house. Last month's incident with the bricks hasn't really filled me with enthusiasm for fixing up windows.
I see City Hall's priorities each day in the paper. They all revolve around multi-million dollar developments to benefit multi-millionaires. Even their solution to neighborhood drug markets and blight is to sell it off to private developers, not people who actually want to live there and make it better. Seems pretty twisted to me. Developers can take care of themselves. So can the drug dealers. And they're both thriving in Baltimore.
Friday afternoon, October 7: Haven't been so motivated to write lately. The zeal that used to fuel my tirades is showing signs of wear. Used to be my entries gave me hope. I've actually avoided writing at times over the past few months so as not to bring me down further.
Today's entry is in somewhat backward order ... to catch up I suppose.
Was watching the rain out my window about 2:15 this afternoon. I was on the third floor this time, checking for leaks, so not as visible. And there's still remnants of the white wash on the window up there from when The Wire did their filming. Good vantage point. Though the rain was pouring down hard, I saw three hand to hand transactions in as many minutes. All three dealers came out of Pedestal Garden's building, walked to the corner of NIMROD and did the deal out of sight of the PG cameras, right next to a school police car that had been parked there for an hour. One customer came out of the same building. Two, one with her umbrella, came from the block north. How they knew the dealers would be on their perch at that moment is amazing, but might have had something to do with the cell phone glued to the one's ear. "I'll meet you on the corner in five."
School is about to let out. That's the time the drug market at Madison Avenue and Wilson Street opens. Has been for years. And it's the seventh and a weekend. All the checks are cashed
Yesterday afternoon, about eight kids were getting their jollies throwing rocks at the house and yard from the alley parking pad. They were about eight to ten years, in their school uniforms. They'd throw the rocks, giggle and then run around the corner. I wondered what the noise was. Watched from the window as they repeated this about four more times. Kids have previously thrown the rocks at the dogs along with taunting them. That's why I never leave them unchaperoned, in their own yard. Lost my temper. Took the big dog on his leash to the substation door and waited. When I heard them come back up, I opened the door and there was this grouch and his big dog. They froze in fear, then ran. As they did, I firmly yelled "find something else to do!" Later I took the dogs out in the yard and three of the same kids came up. No rock throwing this time, but they can't resist taunting the dogs.
I was very disappointed. Was brooding that even the kids here can make life stressful. The kids used to like us. They'd ask when we were having our next free BBQ and moonbounce. That was two years ago. They don't remember it. They have nothing to do. And I realize we've been asking for problems with the rocks since they were put in to provide that parking pad. Surprised it hasn't been a real problem before. Can't afford to pave it. We'll have to figure out something.
Later that night, the generator driven floodlamps Major Sheppard put at the corner did not come on at sunset as it has for two weeks or so.
It was frustrating to watch two dealers hang out near the corner of the brick wall as they have forever. I figured why bother calling 911, the Major or God forbid, 311. What's the use. Vaughn decided to call 311. Had a nice talk with the operator who commented "those lights are effective, aren't they?" I was skeptical still. About five minutes later, about 10pm, a police jeep drove up and the lights came on. The dealers scattered.
A bit later, we noticed a man standing in the street in front of the lights, looking up and down, frantically. Vaughn pointed him out. "See, he can't find a dealer." It did look that way. He walked away. A minute later, an occupant of PG stood at the wide open pedestrian walkway of the new fence looking back and forth up Madison. Back and forth. Back and forth. Gave up and went back inside. Couldn't see the customer someone told him was out there.
The school wall took on some color this week. Lots of young people did this ...
Vaughn thought they were MICA students. I think they were mostly students. It's something to brighten up a dreary school. Perhaps even give the kids a sense of pride. It was nice to see.
An email to Vaughn a couple week's ago:
"I'm sorry I barked at you. I'm just not enthusiastic about the city this morning, though I enjoyed my morning walk..
On the way up I visited the PG office. Met a new clerk. The new boss wasn't in. I described our issues with the PA system. She took some notes. I merely suggested they put someone there and test it. I also said it was way too loud and that might be part of the distortion, the garbling. That we might feel it was less of a nuisance noise if we could hear it was someone asking those who didn't belong there to move along. Like we feel about the Officer who gets on his car PA at 2am and says "get off the block."
She said she drove through last night and noted there was no one there. I pointed out the lights. "None of the usual dealers who operate out of 1715 were at work last night. There were only two resident's cars. The rest are people "visiting" Pedestal Gardens and the block. None of them want to be seen.
I asked about the gates. She didn't know when that would be done. I noted I'd seen the work on the magnetic fire door locks. "That's good to see."
There were a bunch of thug boys in two different clusters on McMechen when I went in the rental office. Loitering at each corner. As I came out the door, I saw one group begin to move in my direction. I subtly altered course. They came up about 30' away and I clearly heard one say "that's the fucking rat!" They continued walking along side of me and slowed to single file behind me as I crossed the school grounds. I heard some other epithets but these I couldn't make out. They were now about 15' behind me. I turned and said "are you talking to me? I didn't hear."
"We know it was you! Stop snitchin mother fucker!"
"Was that a threat? Yell that louder, please. I don't think the cops watching right now heard you."
It was all I could think to say. I stood watching afraid to lose eye contact. Mad and scared. I was a bit concerned about peeing my pants. It slowly dawned on the one in front what I'd said about who might be watching and he broke eye contact. The others turned and walked very slowly away, I turned and tried very hard not to walk too briskly.
They're getting overt and blatant again like they were a couple years ago. It's hard to be enthusiastic about the city when you see nothing fixed and hear commissioners and other politicians claim it is. As if to say it's fixed will make it so. Or at least make us believe it's so.
I realized as I put the key in the door here, I was not happy to be coming home and have seldom ever been ... except for the wagging tails that greeted me. My hopes have been dashed too many times. It's worn me down."
It was two nights before we'd had the rock and brick thrown at the second floor window. This was all around the time of the full moon. That does have an effect as any officer or ER attendant will tell you.
My neighbor's came down to see the floodlights last week and to see for themselves what's going on. Was pretty quiet. Our just being out in front of the house discourages the customers, even if it has little affect on the dealers. Rachel commented how everyone from the 1800 block on north has no interest in this block. She was talking to a neighbor and said "see, she didn't even care that we were coming down here, concerned." This of course is the same neighborhood Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm has lived in for years. Edward commented something to the effect "he can't have them disrespecting his own neighborhood." I hadn't thought of that.
Some good things:
I've seen and know there's a "post officer" assigned around here now. No doubt the one who responded so quickly when we called in gun shots. The ones that turned out to be the bricks. He or she keeps an eye on the main courtyard of Pedestal Gardens and frequently can be found in the median of Eutaw Place where they discourage speeders, prostitutes and dealers all at one time. I believe part of this is the "new tactics" Major Sheppard told us would be tried after some tense emails and pleading calls. This of course includes the floodlamps.
There's reason I stopped seeing the off duty police officers at all a couple weeks ago. They've been replaced, effective October 1st. I began to see people with clearly marked security shirts that day across the street. Wondered what was up, but having nearly severed the lines of communication with the property management, I could only wonder. Had this confirmed for me by a reliable alternate source.
Two nights ago, a pack of adolescent and not so adolescent girls were hanging out on Madison in front of PG, across the street. One was flinging something across the street, looked to me like rocks, but maybe I'm just getting paranoid about rocks. Rather than call the police, I called Butler Security, the new security vendor. Spoke to a nice fellow who took my information. A few minutes later a pair of guys in those shirts knocked. I ran down to tell them the problem had walked back into their building, no doubt because they saw these guys coming. We introduced. Turns out they are specially commissioned officers, like we used to have. I noted I didn't see guns or badges. He said yes, we're armed, I just don't see the value in advertising it. He seems to feel it's intimidating to residents and kids. "And the dealers know we're armed anyway." That one has several years experience as a Baltimore Police Officer. He extolled the virtues of walking the beat, getting to know the residents, the neighbors and the troublemakers.
I said I had noticed the more conspicuous patrols already, and appreciated them. As I'm sure the good residents do. I assured him we want them to be successful. The jury's still out, but one week is not enough time to understand the dynamics of this area.
The gates are supposed to be installed in two weeks. We'll see.
There've been some other staff shakeups with the local property management. Such change can only be an improvement. We can hope.
In the meantime, we met with the Realtor. She gave it a lot of consideration and research and recommends we ask $100,000 for this place even in it's still dilapidated condition. After reading an article today about an investor club touring McCulloh Street, half a block from us, it doesn't sound so incredible. Very torn about the prospect of selling. Would seem like giving up. But it's been a long tour of duty here trying to be an occupying force for good. Without some reinforcements soon, I don't know how much longer I can last. Vaughn still seems to have some fight left.
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