The Annapolis Police Department will not be sending extra officers or patrol cars to an Eastport polling place on Election Day, despite some residents' concerns about violence in the area.
"We plan on doing what we usually do," said Detective Amy Miguez, a police spokeswoman. "We pay special attention to all the polling places throughout the day, but we don't have any plans to focus on any place in particular."
On Sept. 9, two men were shot near the Eastport Community Center. In June, Orlando Sherman McDaniel, 29, of Annapolis died as a result of gunshots wounds he suffered near the 1100 block of Madison Street, which is nearby. No arrests have been made in either case.
The center is nestled between two of the city's Housing Authority communities, Eastport Terrace and Harbour House. Residents who live in the area told Patch earlier this month that they are afraid to vote at their polling place. Some—including Alderman Kenneth Kirby (D-6th Ward)—responded that some of the concerns had more do with irrational fears about the poor and public housing than with the recent crimes.
With less than 60 days until the election, Anne Arundel County Board of Elections Director Joe Torre said it was too late to choose another spot. State election law requires a detailed vetting process for all polling places and these locations must be selected prior to the primary elections. He and Annapolis Alderman Mathew Silverman (D-5th Ward) recommended increasing police presence at the center on Election Day to assuage community fears.
Police Chief Michael Pristoop determined that adding extra police won't be necessary, Miguez said.
Despite recent violence, the crime rate is down from where it was four years ago when voters cast their ballots at the Eastport Community Center for the last presidential election, Miguez said. There is also no history of violence or attacks at the location on Election Day—nor is there a history of attacks at any Annapolis polling location.
Pristoop also told Patch that he's "fairly confident" the attacks were not random and he does not believe the community is at further risk.
Area resident Heinrich Klinge said the police's decision upset him not because he's afraid of the location, but because his single female neighbors expressed fears about voting there after dark.
"I think they are turning their backs on the citizens of Annapolis," Klinge said. "For the police to be educated enough to understand that this is a contentious election coming up and not to be proactive about it, I think that speaks volumes about our city government."
Klinge understood that it was too late to change the polling location for the upcoming election. He said he suspected as much when his neighbors first started talking about going to complain earlier this month.
He and his neighbors plan to urge the council to choose a new polling place for the 2013 city elections. The selection process begins this spring.
Mack Galloway visits his ailing ex-wife nearly every day to help her out with chores at her home in Harbour House. Sitting on her front porch, Galloway has a direct view of the community center. He said he doesn't think there will be any problems on Election Day.
"People know when to lay low," Galloway said. "I don't think there would be anything to worry about."
Poll worker Cheryl Lancaster was worried when she served as a sign-in judge for the primaries in April and said she won't be back this fall.
"I was there from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and was scared to walk to my car and feared that my car would have been vandalized," Lancaster said. "I sincerely hope that this polling place can be moved to a more 'friendly' area so that I can participate later as a judge."
Police will be making regular rounds at the community center throughout the day on Nov. 6, and Miguez said that anyone who sees or hears something that makes them nervous should contact the police immediately.
"We will be very responsive to any calls," she said.