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Federal Hill businesses blame crime for drop in sales

Association helping fund private security patrol
Posted at 6:18 PM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-15 18:18:09-04

After the recent announcement of several business closings in Federal Hill, the district's hospitality association took to Twitter, blaming the consent decree and the mayor for "scaring people away from Baltimore!" The tweet has since been deleted. 

The Baltimore Police Department's chief of communications, T.J. Smith, said the consent decree the city entered into with the Department of Justice would not cause businesses to close. 

"There hasn't been a change in police deployment as a result of the consent decree. The consent decree will result in a change of mentality in policing which is desperately needed

Craig Stoner, board president of Federal Hill Main Street, also disagreed with the tweet and put blame on increased crime since the Baltimore riots in 2015. 

"Whether it's retail, businesses, or restaurants, it's all down and to see that happen over 2.5 years, it would hurt anyone. It's their livelihoods," Stoner said. 

There have also been several high profile robberies in Federal Hill since last year. 

"We've had a lot of people that have been telling us that I'm not coming downtown anymore from the county because they are concerned about their safety and welfare," Stoner said.

To make the community safer and change the perception, his association is leading an effort to hire Wolf Professional Security, a private security contractor, to patrol the commercial district. 

"We want to change that situation and change that idea so that we get more business and we can bring life back to these neighborhoods," Stoner said. 

It will be privately funded through business associations, grants, and festivals. Stoned said they plan to start on the Orioles opening day on March 29, with a few unarmed guards out at a time. 

Smith said the police department is also working to make the district safer. 

"Just a few weeks ago, we had our command bus parked in the area and had additional officers deployed in the area," Smith said. 

He said they will continue to work with businesses and explain what the consent decree means. 

"We will go out and have conversations about different safety plans to ensure that everything that they need to do to be safe is being done," Smith said. 

ABC2 News spoke to two of the three business named in the tweet and neither blamed the consent decree for their closing. 

The Southern District Police Department is hosting the Community Relations Council meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. to talk about the consent decree and answer questions from residents. 

Smith said the department will also hold listening sessions across the city to talk to Baltimore residents and businesses about the decree.