Northern District Police Community Relations minutes, 9/18/2013

Dear Residents,

We are pleased to announce that Autumn Breaud of TV Hill, has volunteered to act as Woodberry’s Northern District Police community liaison.  Below are minutes provided by Autumn of the recent meeting.   If you have an incident, please continue to forward CCoW a note to be shared/included at the November police meeting.

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Baltimore City Police Department Northern District Meeting-September 18, 2013

Meeting Notes for Concerned Citizens of Woodberry Neighborhood Association
Meeting location: Northern District Police Headquarters
Meeting frequency: Third Wednesday every other month; 7p.m.

First speaker: Major Kimberly Burrus

State of district: crime statistics

  • Violent crimes are down relative to this time last year

•13 homicides v. 17 last year
•17 shootings v. 21 last year
•Of this year’s homicides, 13 were gun-inflicted, 3 were acquaintance crimes, and 2 were domestic; 0 were retaliation crimes

  • Property crimes are still a major focus in the district.  Burglaries slightly down v. last year

Neighborhood specific:
•Guilford/Homewood still have some issues
•Hampden & McGovern: larceny from auto has increased – robberies are down overall for the year v. last
•Police work focusing on patterns, i.e. juveniles who were robbing walkers and joggers in stolen car this Summer.
•Charles Village has bulk of robberies -increased foot patrol in Hampden near methadone clinic

Second speaker: Councilman Bill Henry

Late Night Commercial Activity Bill

Councilman saw a bill pass which requires businesses in residential or low-impact commercial areas wishing to operate during the hours of midnight to 5 a.m. to apply for license to do so. Once these businesses apply for a late night operation license, community members have a 15 day window in which to circulate and submit a petition with at least 10 signatures opposing the license. Once this petition is submitted and accepted, the license will be denied, after which the business may file an appeal. A public hearing is held during which community members may further support their cause of license denial by testifying against the business. There are specific exclusions to this law: hospitals and veterinary clinics, businesses with liquor licenses, hotels, gas stations selling gas but with no convenience store function, fast food businesses operating only with drive-thru commerce at night and casinos.

The license, once granted, may be renewed yearly, at which time the community may challenge the re-licensing. The councilman spoke of one such challenge in the Govans neighborhood which was successful in its petition phase, but which was under supported during the zoning board appeals meeting, resulting in the business obtaining its late night commerce license. About 400 businesses throughout the city operate during these hours, but there were almost no applications for license when the program began. Only through police visiting businesses during these hours and requesting licensing did more businesses begin to enroll.

Final speakers: Scott Brillman, director of 911 and emergency communication and Lieutenant ?, of BPD

911 and Emergency Communications

Mr. Brillman has recently accepted the directorship of 911 communications for the City and he and his colleague attended the meeting to address concerns of the communities of the Northern District regarding experiences with 911.

One of the main concerns people express about Baltimore City’s 911 system is being placed on hold. A second concern is that 911 operators ask too many questions of callers and hold up the dispatch of emergency crews.

A few years ago, Baltimore City adopted a national set of emergency communication standards for their 911 operators. These standards provide a template that 911 operators use to 1) gather pertinent information about the location and type of emergency being reported, and 2) provide guidance to callers during emergency situations until help can arrive.

The first two things that 911 operators will ask callers is for the address of the emergency (note, they are not asking for the callers’ address), and the telephone number of the caller. The operators ask for the emergency address twice in order to ensure accurate information. They then work through a series of questions to best determine the severity of callers’ emergency and are specially trained to walk callers through emergency situations, like stroke, bleeding, heart-attack, etc. By the time the operators get to these questions, they have already sent your information onto the automated dispatch system and help is on the way. For these reasons, a 911 call is often not brief and this can result in new callers being placed on hold. Many people may think that as long as the operator is talking to the caller, they haven’t dispatched emergency responders, but the speakers are working to educate the public about the new role of 911 operators. The speakers also would like to stress that the emergency communications office is working to increase its staffing.

There was a question from a meeting attendee about how 911 calls are prioritized. These calls are prioritized by a computer aided dispatch system which ranks crimes or emergencies in progress at the top of the list. Next comes calls which involve crimes which are not as serious and where there is no immediate public danger. then comes missing person calls, followed by investigative follow-up calls. Contrary to what many people believe, calls in which the caller identifies as a ‘block watcher’ are not given higher priority than other calls and they are logged into the dispatch system as anonymous, so if a block watcher wishes a follow-up call, they must specifically request it from the operator.

There seems to be a good deal of confusion about when to call 911 and when to call 311. Here are some guidelines:

  • It is fine to call 311 for a non-emergency police issue, like to report vandalism, larceny to car, etc.
  • If you are in need of a police report for damage to property insurance claims, 311 operators can issue a police report
  • If you call a 311 operator with an emergency, they can always transfer your call to a 911 operator
  • Since 311 services are not available after 10 p.m., the Baltimore City Police Department has recently made available a way for citizens to create a police report for non-
  • Emergencies online: http://www.baltimorepolice.org/our-services/file-a-police-report-online
  • Once a report has been filed electronically, a BPD staff member will review it and submit a report number within 24 hours.