Recognizing that criminals don't stay within jurisdictional boundaries, Baltimore County and Baltimore City police officials announced their intention yesterday to pursue a regional approach to solving business crime and increasing community awareness.
"Business Watch will erase the borders," said Capt. James Yeasted, the county's crime prevention initiatives manager. "We recognize that city people go out to the county to commit crime, and county people come into the city. Crime doesn't know about those boundaries."
City and county officers unveiled the program as part of CrimeScan '95, a daylong crime prevention conference at Towson State University sponsored by the six local Chambers of Commerce in Baltimore County.
Captain Yeasted said county Officer Scott Canter conceived the idea, which includes training for business owners on preventing internal theft, shoplifting and robbery. Officers and business owners also will share information about suspicious people and successful crime prevention tactics.
For example, county business owners might consider installing a buzzer system regularly used by city merchants, Col. Leon N. Tomlin of the city police told conference participants.
"If the merchant has a problem, he just pushes a button which rings a buzzer next door," Colonel Tomlin said. "Once you have a problem, it's too late to call the police, so the merchant next door will call for you."
"We've been working more and more with business organizations," Captain Yeasted said. "Each of us has a vested interest in the crime that goes on."
However, cooperation between the jurisdictions is not new, he said.
Besides responding to emergency calls on both sides of the county-city line, the departments have worked together on drug cases and, in January, created the Regional Auto Theft Team to help target the types of vehicles and locations where car thefts are most likely to occur.
"Half the time, it's a kid behind the wheel," said Captain Yeasted.
Yesterday's conference -- the first sponsored by the Chambers of Commerce -- included panel discussions on such topics as personal safety and juvenile crime.
"We hope other jurisdictions will use our pilot to take this type of program to people in their communities," said Sheridan Smith, chairman of the committee that organized the conference.