Private Security

Private Security

Federal Hill's business district will get an extra layer of security starting April 1.

The area on the South Baltimore peninsula that includes Cross Street Market and the busy restaurant district around Charles and Light streets will be be patrolled by the private Wolf Professional Security of Owings Mills.

The foot and vehicle patrols will be paid for by the business owners and will work on a hourly basis, likely five days a week.

"I'm not sure how long we're going to need this, but we want people from the county — from the counties — to come back down here," said Hank Shofer, president of the Federal Hill Business Association, on Wednesday.

The Wolf security company employs retired and off-duty Baltimore County police officers as part of its force, and has also been hired to patrol Charles Village, Harbor East and Fells Point, said Craig Stoner, chairman of the board of the nonprofit Federal Hill Main Street, which will oversee the effort. Wolf was also hired by the Downtown Partnership Baltimore in December to send in a team of 15 officers to patrol the Central Business District during the holiday season at a cost of about $30,000.

It is the latest move by the local business community toward becoming more proactive in public safety.

Many business owners have said their revenue was down by up to 35 percent over the past two years, while others have closed down completely following a drop in business related to what they say is a negative perception of Baltimore.

That was fostered by the 2015 unrest in the city following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and a record 343 murders last year, including the November homicide of 41-year-old bartender Alexander Wroblewski outside a Locust Point Royal Farms store after his shift had ended.

During a January meeting of business owners in Fells Point, the crime issue prompted a debate.

During a meeting at the Greater Baltimore Committee Thursday morning centered on public safety and crime reduction, Drew Vetter, who heads the Mayor's Office on Criminal Justice, said he "had not discussed" the economic impact of local businesses having to hire private security forces as an extra layer of safety on the city's streets....