By Brian Conlin, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 10, 2011
Ben Christian had seen enough people using the Medwick Garth Facebook page to complain about the crime in the area, which included two cars being stolen in about a month.
"I put something on there that said we need to do something about this," said Christian, 31. "I think within 30 minutes, I had 20 people make comments. They were eager to start something as well."
That something became a drive to start a Citizens on Patrol group for the Medwick Garth community, located north of Frederick Road in Paradise.
The momentum from online carried over to schedule an in-person Aug. 16, at 7 p.m., at a home on the 5500 block of Medwick Garth South.
Michelle Stevens said she plans to attend the meeting and do whatever is necessary to help get this C.O.P. off the ground.
Stevens, who has lived in the neighborhood 10 years, said the area has seen a rash of car break-ins and more obvious signs of drug use.
At the end of July, she found a used hypodermic needle on the ground.
"I think the dynamics of the neighborhood change a lot, depending on renters and how the housing market is doing," said Stevens, 37. "We have trending problems. The drug activity, I didn't realize we had."
The neighborhood is a victim of geography.
The line that separates city from county runs through the neighborhood, often making it difficult for police to determine if an incident is within their jurisdiction, Christian said.
To make sure the communication channel is clear, Christian contacted Baltimore County and city police for next week's meeting, in addition to 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk, from the county; and 8th District Councilwoman Helen Holton, from the city.
"Nobody knows if we're city or county," said Christian, who lives on Medwick Garth East. "Both parties need to be helpful here. It can't be just one or the other."
Christian admitted he is at the head of this project despite knowing that he and his wife, Michelle, may not be residents of the community much longer.
A student in the College of Notre Dame of Maryland's Leadership in Teaching master's degree program, Christian is unsure of where he will end up next.
Once the C.O.P. gets off the ground, Christian said he wants to hear the concerns of his neighbors.
"We know more or less what the problems are, but I know there are people in this community that want to say something," said Christian, a Spanish teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Baltimore.
Once the concerns are heard, Christian said the group will begin assigning roles and assigning areas of responsibility.
"It's an immediate demand for the community," Christian said.
"We feel like our neighborhood is something worth defending."