In response to a recent uptick in assaults on people walking and biking in the Greenmount West neighborhood, Baltimore City Police have issued an order for increased police coverage for the next thirty days. Bikemore has been working closely with Baltimore City Police for months to bring awareness to this public safety issue, and are pleased to have seen a lot of engagement and action on their part in the past few weeks. You can view the new deployment plan below.
We have also learned that arrests have been made this week in connection to a recent assault of a Greenmount West resident that was caught on video. It is believed those responsible were also involved in the recent assaults of people riding bicycles.
Public safety is a critical element of a healthy, livable neighborhood. And while the issue of public safety is so much bigger than bikes, Bikemore has an important role to play in demanding our neighborhoods be safe places to walk and bike.
As bike riders, it is important we take the time to report incidents of assault or attempted assault. Creating a record of a pattern of violence is critical to getting resources directed to the neighborhoods that need them. We recognize that response wait time, treatment by officers, or the fact that many of the perpetrators are youth may cause some to decide not to report these incidents. Add to that the complication of often having to report a crime in a different district than where the crime took place because that bike rider rode to safety, and reporting can seem fruitless. But after weeks of meetings, the major take away we at Bikemore heard is that we have to report to get the resources we need.
Some important things to keep in mind if you are ever a victim of an assault or attempted assault:
1. Ride to a safe place
2. Call 911 and request to report an assault.
3. Note the responding officers names. Write it down. Also request your incident number so you can reference it later when requesting a copy of your police report.
4. If the responding officers are not treating you with respect, or it appears they are not actually taking a written report (good indicators include not asking for your name, being dismissive of charges, offering unhelpful advice like telling you not to ride alone or at night) you have the right to request that a supervisor come to the scene and take your report. If you don't feel comfortable doing this at the time, document their name and badge number and communicate this information to Bikemore. We can alert supervisors and demand retraining of patrol officers that do not take these assaults seriously.
5. Seek support from the bike community. Being a victim of assault can be traumatizing. Ask friends to ride with you for a few days until you regain your comfort biking alone. Don't put a time limit on how long it might take you to feel comfortable riding again--it's a personal choice. Seek professional counseling if the trauma becomes too much to handle on your own.
As a community we need to support and embrace our bike riding youth. We need to be able to parse out the differences from children riding bikes, and children prone to committing crimes while riding bikes. We have to work diligently to give our city's youth viable alternatives to crime and violence. We need to speak up when conversations about violence turn into coded conversations about race and class. We need to support organizations whose mission is to directly support youth in our city.
This is not an issue that has an easy solution, but we are committed to remaining engaged with neighbors, police, and lawmakers as a partner working toward improved safety of all neighborhoods in Baltimore.