Police are only able to patrol between their calls from residents, so observant neighbors who report suspicious activity including unfamiliar people, vehicles, and possible drug activity help both the Baltimore County and Baltimore City police departments focus their resources where they can be the most effective.
Citizens on Patrol
The object of the Baltimore County Citizens on Patrol program is to provide more eyes and ears on the streets observing and reporting crime and/or suspicious activity. Program guidelines prohibit participants from actions that would place them in a confrontational situation. Each vehicle is equipped with a cellular telephone and or City Handheld Radio on which to call in incidents needing police attention.
Participants may patrol any number of hours per week, but each participating neighborhood association must show a combined total of eight hours per month by its membership. Each participant must document his/her activities during patrol and this information is forwarded to the Baltimore County Police Department and Northeast Citizens on Patrol.
Why should you join C.O.P.?
- Help reduce crime
- Assist in protecting your property and community
- Contribute in making your community safe
- Getting to know your neighbors so it’s easier to recognize outsiders
- Be the change you see in the world
- Enjoy an evening out with a fellow member while protecting your neighborhood
So who do I contact to get started?
Now that you are interested and ready to help, send an email expressing your interest in the comments below or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you to build a better community!
Neighbors have asked us at the association how they can report suspicious activity in a way that will get results. Because we live in a neighborhood that spans two police jurisdictions it’s important to contact the correct department, but the important things for neighbors to observe and document are the same for both the city and county.
Calling 911 in City and County
In Baltimore County, when you call 911 for suspicious or suspected criminal activity in our neighborhood, please get a Central Complaint or “CC number” from the call taker. You can request (and receive) this number even if you do not provide your own information. Typically the monthly report of neighborhood crime from Officer Goorevitz only includes calls that resulted in arrests and/or an official report, but if you relay the CC numbers you receive to our Citizens on Patrol (by emailing email@example.com or posting here in Nextdoor), he has promised to provide Harford Park a report with the information on any CC number we provide him.
In Baltimore City, calls to 311 and the non-emergency numbers do not create Central Complaint numbers. In fact, a call to 911 where the officer declines to take a report about the crime ALSO does not create a record of any crime taking place. If a city police refuses to write you a report, ask for a supervisor. If the supervisor refuses, talk to one of us at HPCA (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will relay your issue to the Council President’s office liaison for investigation.
Retired Baltimore City officer Mike Hilliard (now representing HARBEL) advises anyone reporting activity to keep a log with the following information:
- Descriptions of suspicious cars you see
- Tag (license plate) numbers
- Descriptions of people (gender, age, race, height, clothing)
- Day of the week activity generally occurs
- Date and time of specific activity
This helps to establish patterns so that when you email the police they have a good starting point for surveillance. Drug teams are in constant demand, so it helps to direct them to the time and place where they can catch someone in the act before getting dispatched to the next complaint.
In Baltimore County
Officer Jason Goorevitz of the Baltimore County Police Department suggests that county residents to call 911 or 410-887-2222 (non-emergency number) to report criminal activity in progress. Always call 911 in an emergency.
Once you have collected a log of activity and can narrow down that activity to a day and time that are generally more frequent, call the County Police Vice/Narcotics team at 410-887-1870. You can be anonymous if you chose, but it is helpful to leave your name and number in case the police need to call you back for more information. In either case your name will not be used in an investigation.
County residents can also use the Baltimore County Police iWatch website to report suspicious behavior, and file a police report on-line for lost property, an abandoned motor vehicle, a hit and run auto accident, destruction of property, and theft at the online reporting system.
In Baltimore City
Mike Hilliard suggests that City residents concerned about drug crime in the city call 911 for activity in progress or 410-666-3784 for the city drug tip line to inform the police of generally recurring activity. This number may be answered by a live person or you may be asked to leave a message with your information. In either case the information you leave will be forwarded to the officers most able to deal with any issues.
What do I do when?
I see suspicious activity in the park after dark? Call 911 so an officer can come and check it out. No one should be in the park after sunset.
Tips from BPD Supervisor
1. Don’t leave valuables visible in your car and lock your doors. Lock your home windows. If you go away for vacation ask your neighbor to watch your house and notify the nearest precinct, to pay special attention to your home and give them a contact number and the length of time that you will be on vacation.
2. Keep a record of make, model and serial numbers to valuable, separate from valuables. For jewels, take pictures and write a description of your jewelry and store it safely in your home. Also record the value of all valuables.
3. Have an alarm system installed, post signs and use it, faithfully.
4. Install cameras, they’re a great deterrent and effective tool in a police investigation.
5. Report suspicious behavior. In fact speak to people, especially if they do not belong in our neighborhood. Criminals, suspicious people and bad guys want to go unnoticed.
6. Call the police, take note of sex, race, clothing descriptions, tattoos, vehicle tags (most important). Any thing that will help police identify and locate these persons.
7. Hold police accountable. If they don’t respond swift enough call again. If they seemingly ignore your concern call for a supervisor.
This is our community, to prevent any negativity from taking over “If we see something, we must say something!”
Citizen’s Police Academy
Baltimore County’s Citizens’ Police Academy’s primary objective is to afford an opportunity for community, business and religious leaders to become informed and educated about the many aspects of police work. The Academy is designed to give the attendees exposure as to why police respond to various situations in a particular way and how they ultimately handle those situations. For more information call the Youth and Community Resources Section at 410-887-5901 or view our Citizens’ Police Academy web page.