What Is NECOP?

HARBEL Community Organization, Inc. has been serving the communities along Belair Road and Harford Road for over 45 years. HARBEL’s boundaries extend from the Beltway on the North to Erdman Avenue on the South, and from Perring Parkway on the West to Pulaski Highway on the East. It is a huge area, encompassing approximately 100,000 residents over some 16 square miles. HARBEL operates a state-certified outpatient substance/alcohol abuse prevention program, a housing partnership promoting home ownership, and a community relations program.

Beginning in the summer of 1999, it became obvious that crime in the communities was increasing to the point where residents were hesitant to go about their normal daily and communal activities. These weren’t major crimes; those crimes were being dealt with by the police satisfactorily. Indeed, it was the everyday nuisance crimes, the quality-of-life petty crimes that were driving residents to frustration and had forced many people to simply leave the area.

Together with the commander of the Northeast District Police, HARBEL founded the NorthEast Citizens on Patrol in an effort to address this issue. The organization, planning, and funding of the effort took place over the next several months. The Al Packer Enterprises on Belair Road donated a car to be used as a command car. They also donated sufficient funds to get the Patrol up and running. Their funds were used primarily to erect a communications tower, buy illuminated rooftop identification signs, and re-program radios. The Patrol now uses push to talk cell phones to keep the police and the volunteers on patrol in constant and instant communication with each other. The Patrol was ready to roll out into the community for the first time in January 2000.

Now in its 14th year of operation, the Patrol has grown from an initial sign-up of 200 volunteers, to over 600 today. It continues to grow. It has grown from 15 community associations under the HARBEL umbrella, to some 25 and goes beyond HARBEL’s borders. The patrol encompasses the entire Northeastern District, thereby stretching as far West as Loch Raven Boulevard and as far South as 25th Street. The NorthEast Citizens on Patrol is the largest in the state, in terms of vicinity as well as volunteers.

To enable the Patrol to continue, funds are needed to promote the work and effort of the many volunteers who give unselfishly of their time. Brochures and other promotional material need to be developed. A computer data base needs to be established to coordinate the schedule of all the volunteers and their shift. Ideally, a person should be hired with sole responsibility for the Patrol’s operation, but that is still in the future. For the time being, HARBEL will continue its coordination role.

Much of the funding to get the Patrol going was generously donated by the business community. They saw right from the beginning the value of helping to stablilize the very neighborhoods where they do business. The residential community has donated thousands of hours doing the actual patrolling. The political leadership supports the effort. All four City Council representatives from the 2nd, 3rd, 13th and 14th districts as well as the Mayor of Baltimore City and the City Council President are members of the Patrol. The police continue to be enthusiastically supportive. Baltimore City's Department of Housing and private foundation funding has also helped. Continued funding is crucial so the momentum, now solidly established, does not waver.

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