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The Dripby Fern Shen4:23 pmNov 26, 20130

A tale of no-show Baltimore police

You don’t need $285,000 consultants to tell you that Baltimore police are failing to respond to citizen concerns. Just look at social media.

Above: A Baltimore Police car on Fulton Avenue last year.

If the officials discussing what’s ailing Baltimore law enforcement want to make sure their policy and planning talk (here and here) is rooted in reality, they should probably do like the archetypal beat cop of our dreams and walk the streets.

Failing that, they could simply take to the social networks. The Facebook pages of Baltimore neighborhoods are replete with tales of kicked-in basement doors, broken-into apartments and brazenly-snatched purses – often with harsh criticism of the police response.

No Clue of a Robbery

This approach might paint a somewhat skewed picture in our digitally-divided city, but we’re guessing that the frustration with crime and police evident in this Saturday post on the Canton Neighbors Facebook page is something folks from across the city can identify with:

“How is it that a guy gets robbed [of a cellphone] by three teens on a Saturday night in the middle of Canton, I drive around for blocks chasing them blaring my horn, my girlfriend calls the police, I call the police, and the only police officer nearby five minutes later is responding to a tow request and when I spoke to him he had no clue about the robbery and chase? I pay $6,000 a year in taxes. Where is that money going? Again, I don’t want a response, I want you to do your elected official job to help assure that this doesn’t continue to happen. You can’t stop it, but you can do things to decrease the chances of it happening to others.”

The post, addressed to City Councilman James B. Kraft, has 53 “likes “at last count.

It didn’t take long for the person whose phone was snatched to join the conversation and add some details.

It’s clear from his account that he was unnerved by the incident, which took place on Hudson Street on his front steps at about 10 p.m.

[I was] “waiting for a ride from a friend, sat on my stoop, pulled my phone out to text that friend for maybe 5 seconds – one of them ripped it out of my hands and started running. It did not seem planned since one of them didn’t run and told them to give it back to me – as if it were a practical joke. I was outside for maybe 20 secs tops before it was stolen.”

“I really appreciate his and his girlfriend’s efforts last night. I was able to run down one of the guys near Highlandtown, but knowing he was not the one with the phone and being pretty flustered at the time, I wasn’t quite sure what to do and eventually let him go and went to the nearest store to get the police,” he wrote.

Where’s the Helicopter When It’s Needed?

The original post-er chimes in at this point to say he’s glad the victim is all right but to return to his main point.

“It shows the ridiculousness of the police response (not blaming the police or any specific City official department here),” he writes, noting that the victim “chases and tracks down one of the thieves for approximately one mile, multiple police calls are made, and [he] can’t reach the police until it’s too late?

“I mean come on, I hear the police helicopter overhead right now, where was it last night? Where was our City last night for . . . our neighbor? He’s running helpless through our streets, alone, and the only police in the area was here for an illegally parked car? Where’s the police presence my $6,000 a year in taxes should be paying for?”

Another person joins the discussion, reflecting a mixture of sympathy for and cynicism towards the police.

A Saturday night at 10pm? I’m going to guess that the police were handling a domestic or two in o’donnell heights, maybe a robbery in butcher’s hill, some disorderly conduct and more domestic calls in the Perkins homes. And who knows what kind of nonsense they were dealing with in fells point? That’s just the unfortunate reality of having a poor, understaffed police department serving you. The rest of them were eating at panera bread.

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