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May 20, 2009

Crime Beat goes international to BBC

The crew from British Broadcasting Corp. spent nearly 30 hours filming me over two days and will use about five minutes when the show airs as scheduled tonight at 7 p.m. on BBC America (Comcast, digital cable channel 114). Z on TV also promos the show.

They wanted to know what crime was like in Baltimore through my eyes -- the success of The Wire in Europe the peg of course. The producer didn't ask me about the show, but more about the culture of violence. We went to two crime scene, one a fatal shooting near a school (seen above in a video taken by The Sun's Gus G. Sentementes), another a minor shooting in East Baltimore in a driving rainstorm. In between, they filmed me talking and walking near the courthouse, in front of Lexington Market, and filmed the city skyline from atop Federal Hill and Washington Hill and boarded rowhouses in East and West Baltimore.

I'm not sure what impressions my tour left them (I know we ate well, but those scene didn't get filmed). The producer Sarah Gilbert did say that folks back home would be shocked to have violence so close to their homes -- what passes for routine here is exceptional there. They have crime in London, and not all London neighborhoods are like Piccadilly Circus or South Kensington.

But they don't have the gun violence we have here.

I'm interested to see this -- it was my first time narrating a television program (it's different than being interviewed). The crew did discover at the fatal shooting scene that witnesses are hard to come by. Not only do people tend to fade away when the cops come, they don't want to talk to anyone, reporters or the police.

"Nobody knows but everybody knows," the deputy major of the Southwestern District, Charles V. Carter, told me and the television camera.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 7:54 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Confronting crime

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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