Preliminary Findings from Lighting Survey

By Barbie Klik and Jim Prost

Everyone knows that there are dark areas in Bolton Hill after the sun goes down. And the MRIA Safety Committee has heard about lots of reasons. Trees are obstructing the lights. There aren’t enough street lights. Neighbors don’t turn on their outside lights.  

While everyone thinks they understand the reasons, we wanted hard data. The Safety Committee developed and distributed an online survey, and now have data from some 200 residents who answered four simple questions.  

We have begun sorting through the responses and wanted to report some preliminary findings. On the positive side, approximately a fifth (20%) of the respondents said their block is well lit (4 or 5 stars on survey). 

The 80% who felt their block was poorly lit were able to identify reasons why. 

By far, the most common reasons identified for inadequate lighting were not enough city street lights (63%) and lights that are obstructed (53%). Approximately 23% of the responses noted that lighting could be improved if house front lights were turned on(The survey allowed for more than one reason to be selected, so percentages total more than 100%.)

The Committee is continuing to collect results and review the data. We will then map the data to identify differences among subsections of the neighborhood, and evaluate the more than 70 detailed comments received.

We will utilize this information to formulate an action plan. We have already begun to examine potential lighting options and are starting to engage partners. For example, BGE has an innovative B-More Bright Initiative and a Smart Energy program, and the Baltimore Historic Society may be a source for grant funding.

The Committee will provide regular updates at monthly MRIA board meetings.

Sign Up for CERT Emergency Preparedness Training

Emergency PreparednessBy David Bowes

Remember the Derecho of July 2012? That was the windstorm that downed trees and power lines and left much of the mid-Atlantic region in the dark. At the time, I found myself woefully unprepared. 

When the lights went out, I managed to dig up a puny flashlight from the car and a chocolate-scented candle. I don’t know why I had a chocolate-scented candle. Thankfully, our power returned by 10 the next morning, but the experience made me reexamine my level of readiness, or lack thereof. 

In addition to flashlights, a NOAA weather radio, and other supplies, I realized I also needed to know what to actually do in an emergency. It’s one thing to have lots of emergency gadgets; it’s quite another to have the skills you might need when the grid goes down. It’s especially beneficial to have neighbors who can help one another when disaster strikes.

Enter Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, which in Baltimore is offered by the Office of Emergency Management.

In 1985, the Los Angeles Fire Department developed the first CERT training to provide a better response after earthquakes. They recognized that in the early stages of a disaster, organized responses were often delayed, leaving citizens to fend for themselves. By covering preparedness, basic disaster survival, and rescue skills, their training program improved the ability of residents to safely help themselves, their families, and their neighbors until assistance arrives.

In 1993, CERT training was standardized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for all hazards. CERT now exists nationwide, and individuals who take the class are better prepared to respond to and cope with disasters. CERT teams can supplement the official response to a disaster by providing immediate assistance to victims in their communities.

Baltimore City’s CERT training is held at the Public Safety Training Academy, 3500 W. Northern Parkway, and led by a team of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds who have completed the CERT Train-the-Trainer program. Participants receive both classroom lectures and practical training.

The training takes an entire weekend, starting Friday evening and continuing all day Saturday and Sunday. From personal experience, I recommend packing your lunch.

Along with classmates from across Baltimore, I completed my training this summer on the first weekend in July. My CERT certificate feels like an insurance policy against a disaster, and I can say with confidence that I sleep a little easier at night.

Two more CERT trainings will be held this year, on the weekends of October 13 and December 8. To sign up for a class, send a registration email to before the signup deadlines (10/6 and 12/1 respectively). Preference is usually given to those who live or work in Baltimore City. 

Several of us in Bolton Hill are working to establish a neighborhood CERT team. If you’re interested, email me at

For more information on Emergency Preparedness, visit the Baltimore Office of Emergency Management CERT website, the FEMA CERT site and the Department of Homeland Security site.

Explosive Oil Trains Endanger Our Community

by Andrew Hinz

Bolton Hill is one of several Baltimore neighborhoods at risk from highly explosive crude oil trains. Bakken oil transported from North Dakota contains fracking chemicals and elevated levels of methane, making it more flammable than conventional oil.

Oil train derailment, Lynchburg, VA
A train carrying crude oil derailed while traveling at low speeds in Lynchburg, VA in April 2014, bursting into flames and dumping oil into the James River. Photo courtesy

Since the fracking boom began in 2008, the transport of crude oil by rail across North America has dramatically increased. A string of derailments has followed, including a July 6, 2013 disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 people and destroyed 30 buildings. Rail infrastructure across the U.S., including in Baltimore, is under stress, increasing risk to those of us in the blast zone within a mile of the tracks.

In 2013 and 2014, more than 100 million gallons of crude oil were shipped by rail through Baltimore. Shipments of “unit trains” carrying 35 cars of crude oil have slowed since the price of oil dropped, but they could increase substantially if oil prices rebound. And it only takes one derailed tank car of Bakken crude oil to cause a fire and explosion. This volatile cargo also endangers infrastructure for general cargo and intermodal traffic, which bring more revenue and jobs to Baltimore and Maryland than bulk commodity shipments like crude oil.

Concerned officials at all levels of government are addressing this public health and safety issue. Maryland’s Attorney General has joined five other states in asking the federal government to limit the volatility of oil transported by rail. But it is uncertain whether federal authorities will act, making local action even more important. 

Thankfully, City Council members Mary Pat Clarke and Edward Reisinger are co-sponsoring a zoning amendment to prohibit new or expanded crude oil shipping infrastructure in Baltimore City. The amendment will grandfather the two terminals currently operating, one in Canton and the other in Fairfield. Maryland’s General Assembly will consider legislation in the 2018 legislative session requiring more transparency in reporting of crude-by-rail shipments, increased emergency preparedness, and proof of insurance from rail companies, similar to a bill just passed by the New Jersey legislature.

Councilman Eric Costello, who represents our neighborhood, is currently undecided on the bill. You can write him at to encourage him to support this important legislation.

The faster we move away from dangerous and polluting fossil fuel infrastructure like crude oil trains, the faster we can transition to job-creating clean energy projects like offshore wind and community solar.

If you’d like to find out more about the oil train issue, you can attend a screening and discussion of Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail on Thursday, September 21, 6–8 pm at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore at 12 West Franklin Street (use their Charles Street entrance to Parish Hall for the screening). This 23-minute film by Vice News outlines the use of defective DOT-111 oil tankers and the secrecy around rail oil shipments.

Be a Citizen in the Know: the Criminal Justice System and Community Impact

Both violent and property crime have been on the decrease over the past six months. Nevertheless, because we often see an uptick in crime as the temperature rises, the MRIA Safety Committee wants to remind readers of the role the entire community can play in the criminal justice process.

Below are major crime data (assault/robbery, aggravated assault, and burglary) for the last six months (mid-November – mid-May) for the 132 Central District post, encompassing all of Bolton Hill, parts of Reservoir Hill and some areas west of Eutaw St.

BH crime stats 11/16-5/17

What can the community do to mitigate the impact of crime? Most importantly, do what you can to avoid becoming a victim. The Safety Committee has collaborated with Midtown to offer four self-defense classes, which will be held at locations throughout Mt Vernon and Bolton Hill. Anyone can enroll for these classes.

In the instance when a crime does occur, it’s important for the community to be engaged in the process at every stage. They can elect judges and submit community impact statements; but they can also play an important role as attentive and active observers. To have the greatest impact, citizens must stay informed about a very complicated process.

Victims, of course, are at the center of any case, because it is up to them whether or not to press charges. The victim also makes certain that the charges and police reports are accurate and complete.

It is essential that victims remain engaged in the judicial process, even though doing so can be emotional and at times traumatic. Without the victim present, charges can be dismissed. As Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Kevin Davis reported at the May MRIA meeting, more than 50% of cases involving guns are dismissed because the victim does not show up for the trial.

Perhaps the most important thing the community can do when an arrest is made and a court date set is to encourage, support and empower the victim. Victims of crimes, as well as their representatives and witnesses, have rights that include:

  • The ability to receive crisis intervention help;
  • Notification of dates and times of court proceedings;
  • The ability to seek protection from harm or threats of harm arising out of the prosecution of the case;
  • Information about financial compensation, criminal injuries compensation, and social services available to victims and their representatives;
  • Assistance in seeking employer cooperation to minimize loss of pay or other benefits resulting from their participation in the criminal justice process;
  • Ability to address the court or submit a victim impact statement to the court.

During the preliminary hearings and the trial itself, the victim will be consulted but community impact is not considered. However, they can be called upon to offer community impact statements once a defendant has been convicted, during the sentencing process.

It is important for community members to remain engaged throughout the course of a trial in order to be able to most effectively argue the community impact during sentencing. Commissioner Davis pointed out that in gun-related arrests that resulted in a conviction and the imposition of a sentence, the sentence was suspended in 60% of the cases in Baltimore City.

Community members should also keep in mind that judges are elected officials, which gives citizens the opportunity and responsibility to assess their performance in managing the judicial process through the power of the vote.

Safety Committee: Camera Project

By Barbie Klik

The Bolton Hill Camera Project

Do you have a surveillance camera on your property? If so, please tell us about it.

The Mount Royal Improvement Association Safety Committee is working to identify and map private surveillance cameras in Bolton Hill. When crimes occur, surveillance footage – not just of the crime itself, but also of suspects’ movements nearby – can help police track down perpetrators.

But police don’t always know if such footage is available, and the camera owners may not know that their footage could help solve a crime and lead to an arrest. Critical footage can even be erased without the owners knowing that they have it.

MRIA’s Safety Committee wants to bridge that gap by making a centralized database of surveillance cameras that police and citizens can use to help solve crimes in our neighborhood. The information you provide will be curated by the committee and made available to law enforcement.

The strength of a community is measured by how well we work together. You may have installed a surveillance camera to watch over your own home, but it may not have occurred to you that if we pull these resources together, we can create an invaluable tool that improves our collective security – and acts as a deterrent to future crime.

If you have a surveillance camera and want to help make your neighborhood safer, please send the following details to

  1. Name and property address.
  2. Location: does your camera (or cameras) face the street, rear of the home, side, or a combination?
  3. Is your camera registered with CitiWatch?
  4. May the MRIA Safety Committee or law enforcement contact you? And if so, what is your preferred method of contact?
  5. Contact information.
  6. Details about your camera or setup you care to share: make/model, location (eye level, overhead, etc.), night vision capability, range/scope of camera frame, data storage, any other pertinent details.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact MRIA Safety Committee Co-chair Richard Dunfee ( or John Heltman (, leader of the Camera subcommittee. Other members of the subcommittee are Patrick Francis and Linda Stirling.

Crime Statistics

Crime has declined since January, both February and March we saw a 65% and 47% decrease in serious crimes in February and March, respectively. 

Safety Committee May Crime Stats


  1. Be aware of your surroundings.  If you see something suspicious, call 911!
  2. Keep outdoor lights on. They help everyone feel more comfortable when out on the streets.
  3. Go on a charm offensive by welcoming everyone you see in the neighborhood. Building relationships is one of the best deterrents to crime.

If you are a victim of a crime, first get to a safe location and call the police. Then, report the crime to the Bolton Hill Email Network, Provide specifics so others can be on the lookout.

Revamped Safety Committee Gets to Work

By Barbie Klik and David Nyweide

MRIA’s newly revamped Safety Committee, including representatives from the Midtown Benefits District, Prince Hall Grand Lodge, and the Lyric as well as Bolton Hill neighbors, has already been hard at work.

At their first meeting in late February, the committee reviewed several programs in need of support, and formed subcommittees to address these needs.

  • Court Watch, led by Carol Bickford and Jim Prost, will ensure community presence in court for serious cases.
  • Lighting and Crime Stats will be led by Ron Gray and Maria Wawer.
  • Personal Safety Seminars will be led by Rich Dunfee and Michelle Wirzberger and organized in partnership with MICA, police department, and Midtown.
  • Video Cameras, led by Linda Stirling, John Heltman and Patrick Francis, will create a camera survey and map to document which areas of the neighborhood are covered by private cameras.
Tree trimming March 18
The Lighting and Crime Stats subcommittee trimmed trees around street lights in March.

The Lighting & Crime Stats subcommittee will work with the City to improve lighting based on the lighting survey that was completed last yea. They will also launch a neighborhood lighting program with incentives for people to light the fronts of their homes.

In March, a group of neighborhood volunteers led by David Nyweide trimmed trees on selected streets throughout Bolton Hill. With support from both the Midtown Benefits District and Baltimore City, the group focused on trees identified in the lighting survey to improve nighttime lighting just in time for spring leafing.

As for Crime Stats, Major Jones reported at the March Board Meeting that there had been a total of 20 crime incidents this year in the the first two months vs 23 last year for the same period. Bolton Hill is part of the Central District, which is one of two city districts to see a reduction in overall crime recently.

The subcommittee reviewed the last 5 months of crime stats in our police post, which includes Bolton Hill and small sections of Reservoir Hill and Madison Park. Overall, they saw a dramatic decline in violent crimes over the last 8 weeks, as shown the graph below. 

Note: The information provided only includes arrests made within the month of the crime, and ancillary arrests are not always linked to all crimes committed by a single perpetrator. 

The Bulletin will continue to publish updates, including crime stat reports. from these subcommittees as each group evaluates and organizes efforts in these areas.

MRIA’s Safety Committee meets regularly on the last Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend and get involved. Meetings are held in different locations from month to month—see their event listing on the Bulletin calendar for more information.

Unified Purpose on Display at Town Hall Safety Meeting

Town Hall Safety Meeting
Panel addresses audience at the Town Hall Safety Meeting held last month.

By Barbie Klik, Safety Committee Chair

On February 1st, about 240 neighborhood residents and MICA students gathered to discuss how we can make Bolton Hill a safer community.

Facilitated by Reverend Grey Maggiano of Memorial Episcopal, the event was attended by Mayor Catherine Pugh, Commissioner Kevin Davis, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Councilman Eric Costello and others. The Town Hall Meeting notes includes a full list of panel guests and other details.

During the two-hour gathering, many ideas were exchanged and everyone walked away with a shared sense of purpose and strategies to make Bolton Hill safer. 

MICA President and Bolton Hill resident Sammy Hoi kicked off the event by describing how the community can engage MICA security. Hoi and MICA Security Director Marlon Byrd explained that MICA security guards, including both armed, off-duty police officers and unarmed officers, generally have four guards on neighborhood streets at all times. Although MICA guards do not have jurisdiction off of MICA property, they will assist any resident who requires assistance.

club cars
Midtown Benefit District’s new “Club Cars” will be on the streets in March.

Bolton Hill is one of the four neighborhoods covered by the Midtown Benefits District (MBD). Executive Director Michelle Wirzberger explained that they spend 21% of their budget on safety, some $250,000 annually, including 17 off-duty BPD officers who patrol the neighborhoods on a rotating basis.

MBD just received a small fleet of Club Cars to supplement its current security patrol capabilities. Used in conjunction with the Segways already in use, these cars will allow MBD officers to increase their patrol capacity by about 25%. Look for them on Bolton Hill’s streets beginning in early March.

State’s Attorney Mosby gave an impassioned description of the effects that community impact statements and community involvement can have during the criminal sentencing process. She explained that because her office has no control over sentences, community involvement at sentencing is the best way to influence the outcome for violent offenders.

State’s Attorney liaison Ashe Smith monitors the arrest and trial proceedings for violent crimes in the neighborhood and alerts the MRIA Safety Committee when sentencing is scheduled so that we can organize residents to show up. Mr. Smith reminded the audience of the importance of having victims testify at a trial, as many cases are thrown out due to a lack of witnesses.

Focusing on the juvenile justice system, Gavin Patashnik, Chief of Juvenile Justice for the State’s Attorney’s Office, outlined various diversion programs for juveniles, and encouraged the neighborhood to get involved with them.

In particular, Mr. Patashnik mentioned the excellent youth programs at Reservoir Hill’s St. Francis Neighborhood Center.  Coincidentally, the MRIA Social Action Task Force highlighted this organization, along with the Kids Safe Zone, during February’s Party with a Purpose. He also mentioned the Reading Partners mentoring program, another local organization which SATF has promoted and supported. See related article here. (See related article on St. Francis Neighborhood Center in this issue.)

Although laws limit the information that can be shared with the community regarding a specific juvenile crime, Mr. Patashnik noted that here too impact statements are effective for guiding sentencing. If the community is concerned about a crime involving a juvenile, Mr. Smith should be notified with the case number, so that he can advocate for our interests. Without such notification, the State’s Attorneys usually becomes aware of a case much later in the process due to the special rules governing the juvenile justice system.

Commissioner Davis, Chief Robinson and Major Jones of Baltimore City Police reiterated that if you see suspicious activity, call 911. Try to provide as much detail as possible, including height, hair characteristics, and clothing, especially descriptions of shirts and shoes, since a coat or sweater can be easily discarded.

Moreover, they reminded us that most crimes are based upon opportunity. Watch your surroundings and walk confidently, while avoiding the distraction of earbuds and displaying your phone as little as possible.

Police Lieutenant Samuel Hood III discussed CitiWatch, encouraging neighbors to send crime video directly to him via email to Include the date and location of incident, your name, address, email, phone number, description of perpetrator. Type and color of shoes are important, as are the clothes under the jacket.

The night finished with a discussion of the Community Conferencing Center by Founding Director Lauren Abramson. The group facilitates many mediation efforts, but a main focus is restorative justice. Similar to Truth and Reconciliation programs, the volunteer program brings together perpetrators, victims and both sets of families/supporters to discuss the crime and appropriate punishment. This approach has been shown to reduce recidivism and, more importantly, help victims of crime get closure. (See related article on Community Conferencing in this issue.)

The event is already producing results as more neighbors met recently to ramp up the work of the Safety Committee. Email Barbie at if you are interested in working on this committee. And stay tuned for updates on these efforts in the Bulletin.

Safety Recommendations from MICA Security, BPD, and MRIA:

  • Keep porch lights on at night.
  • Install lights near garages, back fences, parking areas, dark spaces.
  • Trim trees and shrubs that can be used to hide criminal activity.
  • Install private cameras.
  • After you report a crime, also send the information to BHEN ( to ensure that the neighborhood is on alert. 
  • Walk with a dog or another person or use the Companion App.
  • Carry a whistle or a boat air horn.
  • If you are inside your house and hear a whistle, look outside to determine if someone needs help.  Call 911 immediately. Help if it is safe to do so. 
  • Don’t talk on cell phone or use ear plugs while walking during the day or night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Engage with people on the street. Make eye contact and say hello. 
  • Report suspicious behavior to police using 911 (not 311).
  • Always lock your car doors and remove any and ALL items from the car—even empty fast food bags or trash. Any items left in the car can tempt criminals. 
  • Join COP (Citizens on Patrol)*.
  • Follow court cases; go to court during trial; file an impact statement with the court.
  • Get to know your neighbors at block parties and other neighborhood events. 
  • Get involved. 25% of city residents are living in poverty, and you can take social action. Join Big Brothers/Big Sisters or the MRIA Social Action Task Force

*COP is increasing the number of groups walking the neighborhood, at night and in the mornings. Barry and Barbara Blumberg coordinate an evening walk every Thursday evening starting from 1329 Bolton (410-669-0175 or

Jonathan Claiborne leads a walk every Monday evening beginning at the corner of Bolton and Lafayette (, and Jack Brown leads a walk on Monday and Wednesday mornings (reach him at NextDoor). 

Community Conferencing Reduces Crime and Empowers Communities

Dr. Lauren Abramson spoke to February’s Town Hall Safety Meeting about her work with a new method for providing resolution to victims and perpetrators in the aftermath of crimes. We wanted to learn more about her Community Conferencing Center.

Lauren Abramson and the Community Conferencing Center
Lauren Abramson and the Community Conferencing Center.

In 1994, Dr. Lauren Abramson attended a conference in Philadelphia and heard a talk on Transformative Justice by Australian David Moore. This led to participating in the first facilitator training workshops on restorative justice conducted in the United States.

As she learned more, Lauren became keenly interested in bringing community conferencing to inner-city Baltimore. She saw its potential to not only bring about important system reforms in criminal justice and education, but to also empower individuals, families and communities to resolve their own conflicts and crimes.

After years of work, the Community Conferencing Center (CCC) opened its doors in 2000. The CCC is the only broad-based conferencing program in a large American inner-city. Even more noteworthy, most its services are provided at no cost to participants.

Widely recognized for its use of restorative justice and conflict management strategies, the model developed by CCC has found success in a variety of settings, including criminal justice, education, community development and business, addressing a variety of issues and a wide range of populations.

They now serve as a hub for training and technical assistance in Maryland, working in over a dozen jurisdictions. With requests for assistance from other states as well as countries, the center works nationally and internationally to help communities establish similar restorative justice programs.

The Process Works

The CCC takes a radical approach: they provide ways for people to resolve situations and build community by sitting in a circle and talking with each other.

Based on the principles of conflict transformation and community justice, the CCC provides ways for people to safely, collectively and effectively prevent and resolve conflicts and crime.

This approach has been uniquely effective at resolving the conflicts around crime between the victims and the perpetrators. Nearly 20,000 people in Baltimore have successfully resolved their own crimes and conflicts using the CCC.

The results speak for themselves:

  • Over 95% of the community conferences conducted result in a written agreement, with an over 90% compliance rate.
  • Young people who participate in a successful community conference re-offend at a rate 60% lower than those who go through the juvenile justice system.
  • For juvenile felony cases diverted to community conferences instead of going through the court system, young people are half as likely to be re-arrested after 1 year, and a third as likely after 2 years.
  • Community conferencing costs a tenth of what it costs to go through the courts.

Community conferencing creates a fourfold benefit by holding offenders accountable and including victims in deciding outcomes, while lowering repeat offenders and reducing costs.

Learn more on the Community Conferencing website.

Traffic Survey Needs Your Input

Many thanks to those of you who have helped MRIA’s Traffic Committee promote pedestrian and motorist safety in Bolton Hill by providing input through their online survey. If you haven’t yet taken the survey, it’s not too late!

Follow this link to complete the four-page survey.

Your responses will help MRIA prioritize safety initiatives and provide vitally important observations to support requests for traffic studies at problem intersections throughout Bolton Hill.

There is strength in numbers, so please help out.

If you’d like to get involved with the MRIA Traffic Committee, please contact Steven Skerritt-Davis,

Town Hall on Safety Scheduled for February 1

The Brown Center at MICA

Recent events in Bolton Hill have raised concerns about safety. In response, MRIA’s Safety Committee and MICA have organized a Town Hall Meeting on Safety for Wednesday, February 1, 6–8 pm in Falvey Hall (1300 W. Mt. Royal Avenue), the large auditorium on the lower floor of the all-glass Brown Center on the MICA campus. Everyone is invited to this community-wide meeting. 

The meeting will focus on prevention and the specific actions each of us can take to make Bolton Hill safer for all.

Reverend Grey Maggiano (Memorial Episcopal) will moderate. Attendees will hear from Sammy Hoi (President of MICA), Major Kevin Jones (Central District Police Commander, Baltimore Police Department), Marlon Byrd, (Director of Campus Safety, MICA), Eric Costello (City Councilman), Ashe Smith (Liaison the State Attorney’s Office), and Michael Marcus (President, MRIA.)

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, Mayor Catherine Pugh, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and City Council President Jack Young have been invited but not yet confirmed.

The program will allow time for plenty of questions from the audience. Attendees will be invited to submit questions in writing at the event, as the organizers want to ensure that all of questions are addressed, even if time runs out.

Vendors representing security systems, outdoor camera installers, and safety lighting will be on hand to answer questions, and provide details and discounts on their products. Plus, volunteers will demonstrate how to set up the “Find My Phone” app.


Fall Crime Stats and Safety Tips

The Safety and Security Committee reported at MRIA’s October meeting about crime trends in the neighborhood over the past few years, measures undertaken by Baltimore Police and MICA to respond to recent upticks in crime, and things residents can do to improve neighborhood safety.

2015 saw a 138% increase in violent crime compared to 2014. This year, violent crime is down 35% from last summer and 39% for the entire year to date. However, the violent crime rate this year to date is still up 44% this year in comparison to 2014.

Bolton Hill crime statistics for 2014-2016 compiled by MRIA's Safety Committee
Bolton Hill crime statistics for 2014-2016 compiled by MRIA’s Safety Committee

In the past year, Baltimore Police and MICA have increased patrols in the neighborhood. Baltimore Police has a car stationed in the neighborhood during the swing shift, and we can often get an overtime car. MICA now has 3 to 4 officers on duty at all times, increased from 1-2 officers, and can have up to 6 officers on duty at peak times.

Even with increased coverage, patrol can’t be everywhere at every minute. The Safety Committee would like to remind residents of common-sense steps everyone can take to promote safety in Bolton Hill.

  1. Talk to your neighbors. Keep each another informed!
  2. Call 911, not 311. Report all crimes to the police by calling 911. You can also submit a report online. If calling in a report, be sure to ask for an incident report number.
  3. Report incidents to BHEN. Send information about any incidents to Serious incidents are crossposted on BHEN, NextDoor (, and MRIA’s Facebook page.
  4. Install a security camera. If you are interested in installing security cameras on your property, check out this FAQ.
  5. Join the Citizens on Patrol (COP). COP is increasing the number of groups out walking the neighborhood, at night and in the mornings. Barry and Barbara Blumberg coordinate an evening walk every Thursday evening starting from 1329 Bolton (410-669-0175 or theblumbergs [at], Jonathan Claiborne leads a walk every Monday evening beginning at the corner of Bolton and Lafayette (jeclaiborne10 [at], and Jack Brown leads a walk on Monday and Wednesday mornings (reach him at NextDoor).
  6. Get the Companion app. The popular Companion app, which alerts a friend to walk with you virtually, can be found online herebSafe is another app that also tracks your movements and shares them with selected friends; find it online here.
  7. Stay lit. Leave your front and back lights on at night, and report any dysfunctional street lights to 311.
  8. Lock things up. Keep your back gate locked and make sure all other locks on your property are working properly.

Wednesday Sheng Zhen Classes Start

Qigong practice room at Bolton Hill Nursery
Qigong practice room at Bolton Hill Nursery

As a creative fundraiser for Bolton Hill Nursery, Peter Van Buren will teach Sheng Zhen Gong in an ongoing series of one hour classes every Wednesday evening from 6 to 7 pm starting September 14.

Suggested donation: $10 per class or $75 for a 10-class pass.

This qigong practice involves graceful, gentle movements that are easy to learn and produce benefits immediately. We will learn both standing and seated forms of Sheng Zhen, which means “unconditional love” in Chinese.

Not an exercise, but more similar to meditation while moving, Sheng Zhen Gong will open your heart and tap into your body’s naturally ability to heal itself by reducing stress and elevating your spirit.

Beginners, drop-ins and experienced students all are welcome. All proceeds go to the school. For more information and to register, visit

Join us and do something good for your body, your mind and your spirit.

Sheng Zhen Classes Start Up for Fall

Peter receiving Sheng Zhen teaching certification from Master Li
Peter receiving Sheng Zhen teaching certification from Master Li

As we round the corner and head towards fall, Peter Van Buren will resume teaching weekly classes in Sheng Zhen Gong as a creative fundraiser for the Bolton Hill Nursery. Classes begin on Wednesday, September 14.

The one-hour classes are offered every Wednesday evening from 6 to 7 pm at the Nursery’s main building at 204 W. Lanvale St.

The suggested donation is $10 per class or a 6-class package for $50. Since the start in October 2015, these classes have already raised about $800 for the school.

Having completed hundreds of hours of training and teaching, Peter became a Certified Teacher in June. Each weekly session will focus on one standing and one seated form of Sheng Zhen Gong, including Heaven Nature Gong, Heart Mind as One, Heart Spirit as One and Healing Gong.

Sheng Zhen means “unconditional love” in Chinese, while Gong means “practice.” Whether seated or standing, this qigong involves graceful, gentle, easy-to-learn movements that reduce stress and elevate your spirit. This class provides the perfect introduction to this wonderful practice, an easy entry to gain the benefits of improved health, relaxation and inner peace.

One participant, Laura Jeanne, commented, “It’s amazing how much one short class balances out the whole week and helps me feel so centered.”

Beginners, drop-ins and experienced students are all welcome. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing. No equipment is needed– just bring yourself and enjoy the practice.

All proceeds go to the school. For more information, visit

Peter also teaches a Sheng Zhen class on Thursday evenings in Hampden at Chris Myers Yoga in the Mill Centre. Chris is also a Bolton Hill neighbor. All proceeds from this Hampden class will go to HopeWell Cancer Support Center.

MRIA Briefs

Useful information from the last Board Meeting on June 7th:

Neighborhood Safety

Major Russell reported that an officer has been assigned to patrol the neighborhood at night through the summer to provide a visible presence on the street.

From his walks through the neighborhood at night, Officer Evans noted that he has seen many people staring at their cell phones, which places them at risk. Would-be thieves see such staring and the use of white ear buds as cues that people are not paying attention to their surroundings. Jill confirmed that based on her review of police reports, cell phones are often involved in robberies.

Also in response to concerns about neighborhood safety, there are now four regular Citizens on Patrol (COP) walks each week, per the schedule below. The walkers welcome new members anytime, so please consider joining one. Good conversation provided.

  • Monday, 7 am: meet at the northern fountain on Park Avenue
  • Monday, 8 pm: meet in front of Memorial Episcopal Church
  • Wednesday, 7 am: meet at the northern fountain on Park Avenue
  • Thursday, 8:30 pm: meet in front of 1329 Bolton Street.

911 Calls

Scott Brillman, the Acting Director of 911 and Emergency Communications, addressed the group on 911 operations. Since Baltimore uses the same technology as other areas of Maryland, this information offers everyone good guidance.

In Baltimore, there are about 4,000 calls per day, with about 90% of these coming from cell phones. Many calls focus on crime, but there are all kinds of other calls as well as. For instance, if someone is having heart attack or stroke, operators are equipped to provide information to help save lives.

When calling 911, operators first confirm the location address, which is asked twice to double-check, so be patient and respond twice. Calls are normally answered in 3-6 seconds, but sometimes there’s a recording when more calls come in than the operators available, such as when there’s a major accident on the highway.

If you get the recording, please stay on the phone, because if you hang up and call back, you go to the end of the queue.

For city service issues and other non-emergencies, use 311, available from 6 am to 10 pm. However, if you are reporting a suspicious person or situation, use 911. Callers can remain anonymous and ask the operator to delete their identifying info.

Blue PlaqueBlue Plaque Committee

Volunteers are needed for Neal Friedlander’s committee tasked with selecting worthy neighborhood homes to receive a new wave of Blue Plaques. The committee’s selections will then be vetted by University of Baltimore history professor Betsy Nix.

Blue Plaques celebrate and honor past residents who made important contributions to human welfare, history, or cultural and intellectual life. The person honored must be deceased or at least 100 years old. If interested, contact Neal at

New Board Member

Katrina Smith had to resign from the Board. The nominating committee unanimously nominated Ashley Day of the 200 block of Lanvale, who was unanimously approved by the Board.

In Brief: Bulletin’s Summer Schedule & Police Reports

Downy Oshun circa 1960
Downy Oshun circa 1960

This summer, we will be producing a single July/August issue which will be published on July 22.

We will return to our usual monthly schedule for the September issue, which will be out at the beginning of the month.

We are all responsible for the safety of our neighborhood. So, if you see any suspicious activity, please call 911.

When an officer responds, get their name and always request that they take a police report or “complaint” for the incident.

BCPD Foot Patrol 2016
BCPD Foot Patrol 2016

Then, take down the complaint number from the Officer, and pass it on to the MRIA Safety Committee at

This number allows MRIA and the BPD to find previous crime in their system should there be a similar call later on.

Enjoy the summer!

Try Mobilization With Movement for Chronic Ankle Pain

AnkleBy Susan Lawrence

We’ve all done it—rolled over on our ankles while running, playing a sport or just stepping off a curb the wrong way.

It hurts, it swells. It’s embarrassing. Perhaps you tried to “walk it off.”

Or perhaps you did all the right things to make it better, remembering the acronym RICE. That’s rest, ice, compression and elevation. Perhaps, you even spelled PRICE by adding protection.

But weeks, months, maybe years later, your ankle still just doesn’t feel right. Your balance is off on that leg. Or perhaps it’s painful to fully turn the ankle inward or it hurts when you squat. So you assume, or perhaps are told, that you have a “weak ankle,” because the ligament just didn’t heal properly. And there’s nothing you can do.

Think again!

New research has shown that ongoing ankle problems from a sprain are not the result of poor ligament healing, but rather involve issues with the ankle joint itself. The ligament, depending on the severity of the strain, heals fairly quickly, anywhere from a couple of weeks to just over two months.

Rather, the ongoing ankle pain may be due to a positional fault.

The ankle joint is comprised of the talus, an irregularly shaped bone with a dome, that sits between the specialized ends of the lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula. Together these two leg bones make the socket that holds the talus in place.

However, when we collapse on our ankle, not only can we sprain the ligament that holds the bones securely in place, but quite often the lower end of the fibula is pushed forward. The three bones no longer sit together properly in the joint, causing a positional fault.

If the talus bone is not seated correctly, it throws off the normal feedback loops and control mechanisms of the ankle, adversely affecting both balance and mobility.

This is not as severe as a dislocation, when the bone comes completely out of joint, nor a subluxation, when the bone comes partially out. However, it can cause long-term problems if left untreated.

New Zealand Physical Therapist Brian Mulligan has developed Mobilization With Movement manual therapy techniques that re-position the fibula in an easy and pain-free manner.

Once the talus is back in the groove, your ankle will function normally again, even after months or years of pain, discomfort or disability.

If you or someone you know has been complaining about a sore ankle, consider giving Mobilization With Movement therapy a try.

Bolton Hill neighbor Susan Lawrence is a physical therapist at Meadow Mill,

Safety Walk Highlights Need for Communication, Collaboration

Safety walk 12
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis speaks with Bolton Hill residents on the Safety Walk held Apr. 14.

Thursday evening, April 14th, about 40 Bolton Hill residents joined MRIA leadership and city officials for a Safety Walk around the neighborhood.

Organized by MRIA’s safety committee co-chairs Jill Kingery and Barbie Klik, the almost two-mile walk provided opportunities for residents to ask questions about the crime-fighting strategies utilized in the area, as they toured neighborhood hot spots.

The officials on hand included Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young, City Councilman Eric Costello, MICA Director of Public Safety Marlon Byrd, Central District Major Eric Russel, and Executive Director of the Midtown Community Benefits District Michelle Wirzberger.

Celebrating the recent collaboration between Midtown and MICA officers, which recovered merchandise stolen from the local Save-A-Lot, MICA’s Byrd emphasized that “MICA continues to be a strong supporter and partner of collaborative efforts that are aimed at reducing crime and addressing concerns before they become too big to manage.”

Stopping briefly to discuss concerns about open-air drug dealing and a recent fatal shooting, Commissioner Davis acknowledged that the department must continuously strive to do better. He noted that “there are people outside of Baltimore that want us to fail.” But he pledged, “We’re not going to let that happen.”

The walk highlighted the growing partnership between the community, Midtown, MICA, and the city government. The strong turnout of residents demonstrated the commitment of the Bolton Hill neighborhood to this public safety partnership.

Dusk-to-Dawn Light Bulbs Make Our Streets Safer

Dawn-to-Dusk lightAfter the recent MRIA inventory of lighting in our neighborhood’s streets and alleys, the volunteers who conducted the survey noted that a number of houses had front door lights that were not turned on.

Brightly lit streets and sidewalks help make the neighborhood safer. The MRIA Lighting Committee encourages everyone to keep their outdoor lights on at night.

And they suggest an automatic and energy efficient way to do this: replace your unlit outdoor lights with dusk-to-dawn light bulbs.

These bulbs automatically turn themselves on at dusk and off again at dawn, so you can simply leave the light switch turned on all the time. The bulbs are also energy efficient and long-lasting.

TIP: Take your old bulb with you when you go to the store to buy the dusk-to-dawn replacement to make sure you get the correct size.

Let’s Take Care of Our Trees

Trimming TreesBolton Hill’s trees make the neighborhood a great place to live, but trees can’t take care of themselves. And it turns out, March is great tree-trimming weather.

Certified TreeKeepers David Nyweide and Sarah Lord are ready to lead a band of Bolton Hillers in branch trimming. Prune the tree in front of your house, or all the trees on your block.

Proper trimming promotes healthy growth for our street trees, and trimming branches selectively can ensure that street lights are not obscured.

To volunteer, contact Sarah Lord at fennofarm [at]

Street Light Survey Gets Results

Streetlightby Sally Maulsby

Thanks to the many Bolton Hill residents who helped MRIA with their recent Lighting Survey to inventory our neighborhood street lights. The survey identified 18 street lights that were out or needed attention. Councilman Eric Costello has been notified and we should soon see more glowing lights on our streets.

If you notice a street light is out, please Contact Obie Chinemere in Councilman Costello’s office and give him the location. Office: 410-396-4816, Cell: 410-446-7962, Email:

You can also report non-working street lights to 311. When reporting a lighting problem to 311, make sure to note the tracking number of the report, which can be used to follow up with the Councilman’s office if it’s not fixed. Be as specific as possible when describing locations to Obie or 311 to ensure an adequate response.

The lighting committee and Councilman Costello’s office have been considering what can be done to improve the lighting at several neighborhood intersections and Sumpter Park.