Baltimore takes a step backward on bar crawls

Recently, residents of Federal Hill and South Baltimore joined together to mourn the death of a young man murdered in their neighborhood and to seek help in combating escalating crime in the area from city and state representatives. While short-term and long-term crime fighting strategies were presented to the residents, it was glaringly evident that there is a significant deficit in police resources in the Southern District and across the city and that the ability of the Baltimore City Police Department to provide timely assistance to victims of crime is adversely impacted by the personnel shortage.

Why then has the city issued a permit for a Federal Hill-O-Ween Bar Crawl to be held on the night of Oct. 27, and why is the business community supporting it? This event, which will bring over 3,000 partiers into Federal Hill, promotes binge drinking and irresponsible behavior. The advertising for this event states that “it’s a night that will go down in infamy” and urges possible attendees to “Get your tickets now and prepare for all-night debauchery.” While security personnel hired by the promoter will be on-site that evening, police and other city emergency personnel will be there as well to, in effect, babysit the bar crawl attendees and then attempt to protect the neighborhood from the inevitable consequences of their overindulgence. Bar crawls may be legal, but who says — when common sense and current circumstances would dictate otherwise — that they should be approved?

Somehow, especially in light of the recent pleas for more police assistance in addressing actual crimes, using scarce police resources to do damage control for a bar crawl seems unjustifiable. The police have told us on several occasions that Halloween is a particularly challenging time for them. Why add to the challenge and divert resources away from more critical needs? Perhaps a better approach this Halloween weekend would be to have neighbors get together outdoors to enjoy the holiday, get to know each other and discuss ways to improve the security of their immediate area and community. We keep asking the police, “What can we do to help you?” Promoting bar crawls is certainly not the answer.

Barbara Valeri, Baltimore

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