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Murderous, But Not By Choice

Last year, when City Paper listed Coldstream Homestead Montebello (CHM) as a community with a high number of murders, we wrote a response citing a reduction in our crime rate and detailing why we were hopeful that our progress would continue. This year, City Paper has ranked CHM as Baltimore’s most murderous neighborhood (Murder Ink, Jan. 5). Despite our best efforts, clearly, we have failed. But we did not fail alone.

In January 2010, as part of our ongoing efforts to build upon the previous year’s progress, the CHM Community Corporation partnered with Northeast Police District command staff to devise and implement a public safety initiative (Red Zone) to reduce violent crime. We targeted high-crime areas in the community and flooded these blocks with police officers and additional community resources. From January 2010 to early May 2010 there were no recorded murders in CHM. Weeks after the initiative was disbanded and the officers were redeployed from CHM, the murders began and continued until we reached our highest total in several years.

We question why a strategy that was so successful in deterring violent crime was so readily abandoned. We recognize that there is a science as to how officers are deployed; we also recognize that politics and geography can negate that science. If even a fraction of the police officers who patrol the tourist hot spots each night were in communities like CHM, maybe some of Baltimore’s 223 murder victims in 2010 would still be alive.

As we reflect on the eight CHM residents who lost their lives this past year, we share the pain of their families and loved ones and are troubled by the lack of closure. Although several of the murders were high-profile, only one resulted in an arrest. [Editor’s note: City Paper records indicate two arrests were made in CHM murders.] This is not due to residents’ refusal to cooperate with the police. In a number of these incidents, residents came forward and provided police with what they believed to be real and credible information. But most of the individuals responsible for these deaths remain at large. Knowing that these cases have not been solved is both chilling and telling.

Despite our setbacks, CHM remains vigilant and will continue to partner with and support the efforts of local law enforcement. I have no doubt that, working together, we will prevail.

Mark Washington
Executive director, Coldstream Homestead Montebello Community Corporation
Baltimore

Editor Lee Gardner responds: For the record, Coldstream Homestead Montebello’s status as the city’s most murderous neighborhood in 2010 is based entirely on Baltimore Police data; City Paper did not independently “rank” it as such.

Correction: Kenneth Antonio Jackson is not an owner of record of the Eldorado Lounge, as reported in our recent feature on Local 333 of the International Longshoremen’s Association (“Union Busted,” Nov. 24, 2010). The club and the property on which it sits are owned by K.A.J. Enterprises, of which Jackson is resident agent, meaning he is the business’ primary legal contact. City Paper regrets the error.

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