The recent robbery of two women at the Roland Park Shopping Center created a media stir. Although I have lived in Roland Park most of my life, I am always surprised by how some occurrences that go with little mention in other neighborhoods create citywide attention if they happen in Roland Park.
Not that a robbery of two city restaurant-goers, one a senior citizen, should go unnoticed. If all robberies received the attention of the recent one in Roland Park, perhaps more criminals would be caught. Certainly, police presence would increase.
Police cars cruised Roland Park all night after the robbery and all the next day, with one large vehicle stationed outside the restaurant much of the day and evening. Television stations broadcast live reports from the scene throughout the day and night. Newspapers gave ample coverage on their websites and in print.
One reporter called and asked me if our listserv was going crazy. No, it was not. My husband and I had received one call in the morning, and that was it. The day after the crime, I received no emails and no eblasts about it.
Like the Roland Park woman, a longtime civic leader, whose purse was taken by a man who said he had a gun, Roland Parkers were at first shaken by the crime. Every time I met anyone on Wednesday, the robbery was the first thing mentioned. Like the same Roland Park woman, who returned two days later to Petit Louis, where she had eaten just before being robbed, Roland Parkers were stunned that this had happened, but were grateful that it was only a purse, wallet, checkbook, driver’s license and credit cards. A horrible occurrence and a big hassle, but no one was hurt.
That has not always been the case in this neighborhood. A few years ago, a woman who lived north of the Roland Park Shopping Center was followed into her home after grocery shopping and raped. A judge’s wife was once assaulted and kidnapped from our street. This time, no one was hurt.
Perhaps the reason there were no eblasts about this robbery is that, like the Roland Park woman who was held up, no one wanted to create a stir. Like other city residents, Roland Parkers chose to live and pay exorbitantly high taxes in Baltimore City. If Roland Parkers did not support the city, even in a time of huge challenges for a beleaguered city, they would move. More “for sale” signs would pop up.
The fact is that many Roland Park residents are engaged in professions, and in the support and leadership of many nonprofits, whose missions are to improve the quality of life of Baltimore City residents. Like the Roland Parker who was robbed recently, many have been city enthusiasts and activists for decades.
One robbery will not stop the Roland Parker who was robbed from living in the city or returning to the shopping center that was the scene of the crime. She is not moving; her children have no plans to move. They too are raising their families in the city, two of them right here in Roland Park. That is what they are about: city engagement.
Fighting crime is just one of many things that Baltimore City and its residents do. One way such a crime could be avoided in the future is with better lighting at the shopping center. The Roland Park Shopping Center now has eerie, fluorescent blue, strong, crime-deterring lighting in the front. The side parking lot of the shopping center, where the crime occurred, is pitch black at night.
Some downwardly directed, architecturally appropriate lighting fixtures, not the prison-yard blinding light fixtures on the bank farther up Roland, would go a long way in preventing future incidents.