Bar owners work to improve safety in downtown Frederick -- Gazette.Net



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Two bar owners in downtown Frederick are raising money to purchase cameras to monitor Citizen’s Way — an alley where 30 people were arrested last year.

In January, a fistfight in the alley, which runs between Canal Bar and Griff’s Landing, adjacent to Market Street, led to a shooting in which one man was injured.

On March 2, two women were arrested for disorderly conduct at the intersection of Citizen’s Way and Court Street. They were removed from Griff’s Landing by bar staff before being arrested in the street.

The owners of Canal Bar and the Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille believe cameras will improve safety in the area. They held a concert Sunday to raise money for the cameras, which would be monitored by the bar owners.

Kriste Kidd, one of the owners of Canal Bar, said the event raised about $1,700 toward the purchase of eight cameras for the restaurant. Any money left over will be donated to the Frederick Police Athletic League, she said.

The Greene Turtle will also be adding cameras outside of the restaurant to monitor crime.

“It’s really nice how the community is coming together,” she said. “It really shows that this isn’t a business standpoint. It’s a community concern.”

Shannon Griffis Essel, whose family has owned Griff’s for 30 years, said her business was asked not to participate in the camera fundraiser. After learning about the event, Essel said she contacted organizers, but was prevented from joining.

Essel said she was unsure why Griff’s was banned, but said her establishment has been blamed for much of the crime in the area.

“I’m not sure why it’s so divided right now,” Essel said of the relationship between the bars near Citizen’s Way.

Essel said she does not believe her business is the problem.

“I think we should pull together as a community,”she said.“That would be my position.”

Kidd said patrons and former patrons have been concerned about the safety of the Citizen’s Way area, which Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine said is a frequent site for fights and assaults.

“We constantly hear people saying ‘We don’t go down that side of town anymore,’” Kidd said. “Time and time again people tell us ‘I don’t like to park my car in the parking garage,’ or ‘We just don’t go there anymore.’ Is it going to be a fix? I don’t know. But like they say, ‘If you do what you did, you get what you got.’”

As a safety measure, police patrol the area near Citizen’s Way during late night hours, especially between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. when the bars close, and the department also has worked with the city to brighten the lighting in the area in the wake of the shooting.

But Dine said he encourages the use of cameras by private owners, as it can help police solve crimes, as well as make businesses and their customers feel safer.

“We are very aggressively encouraging private businesses and residents to use cameras,” Dine said. “We are working on a program to track that, so we know where the cameras are. So we’d have them not officially registered, but if something occurs as a follow up officers can look at the database.”

The city currently operates one camera as a crime deterrent, located in Carroll Creek Linear Park. Dine said the camera had yet to be used for crime solving purposes, but added that it had only been in place for a short period of time.

tlaino@gazette.net