Southwest Baltimore will likely be the first city neighborhood to form a new crime-fighting partnership between senior citizens and law enforcement officials, Chief Deputy Sheriff David De Angelis told a meeting of about 50 seniors yesterday.
Such partnerships, called "triads," have been used across the country and in 18 Maryland counties to educate seniors in crime prevention and develop them as resources for police officers, Deputy De Angelis said.
In each community with a triad, senior citizens, law enforcement officials and representatives of the American Association of Retired Persons form a council to discuss seniors' concerns about security.
"This could get started in the next few weeks," Deputy De Angelis said to those gathered in a hall at St. Benedict's School on Wilkens Avenue. "Seniors don't feel safe anymore, even walking to the store. And too many seniors don't report crimes."
Deputy De Angelis' speech came at the end of a four-hour workshop organized by the Southwest Senior Center and an 18-year-old umbrella group of community organizations, Communities Organized to Improve Life (COIL).
The senior center's lease at 100 S. Calhoun St. expires in five years. Center leaders have hired a consultant to survey the community and devise a long-range plan for the center, which will almost certainly relocate.
The consultant, Jo Fisher, said she had interviewed 148 seniors and other community leaders, both in focus groups and in one-on-one sessions. Chris Ryer, a community planner for the city and closely involved with the center, said a written plan for Southwest Senior Center should be completed by the end of the year.
Yesterday, seniors -- many of them center regulars -- were asked to pick a "top 10" from 19 senior services that are already offered or were suggested in the consultant's interviews.
Most popular were transportation for seniors who cannot easily get to shopping or medical appointments, health screenings and educational briefings on health insurance, and crime prevention programs. Lagging behind in interest were nutrition services, including breakfast and hot lunch programs.