Patrols Leave Districts Foot Police Moved To Anti-drug Unit

November 30, 1990|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

County police have moved their highly touted foot patrols out of some high-crime neighborhoods despite rising violence and complaints from residents.

Out of the seven PACT, or foot patrol, officers, three have been assigned to work on the anti-drug DARE program, leaving the unit with four members.

"I'm down four officers," said Capt. Richard Smith, who heads the division that includes PACT, or Police And Citizens Together. "We are supposed to be getting four more officers by the first of the year."

Smith said one of the four officers working in PACT is assigned to the Crofton area, two are working at the Valley Brook apartments in Glen Burnie and one is on sick leave.

"We have had problems in those areas and the residents there are entitled to protection too," he said.

A 42-year-old woman was murdered in Crofton around the same time as two reported rapes. And the Valley Brook apartments has been plagued with drug trafficking and shootings during the last few months.

But residents in the communities of Meade Village and Warfield homes, on opposite sides of Reece Road in Severn, wonder where their patrols are.

Some say they are worried about rising violence since police have left.

Earlier this month, Michael Jerome Brooks was shot in the back while standing on Pioneer Drive in the Warfield Homes community. Police said witnesses saw the gunman drive south on Pioneer Drive, slow down in the 8500 block and fire once from a shotgun.

On Nov. 3, four people, including an 11-year-old Annapolis girl, were injured when a gunman opened fire at a crowded dance in the Meade Village Recreation Center.

"The PACT team is no longer here," said a Meade Village resident who asked not to be identified, "and that's not good. We are having more of a problem with violence, and I am really hoping the police come back."

Smith said putting PACT officers back into those neighborhoods is a priority.

In May, police began Operation Clean Sweep in Warfield Homes, Meade Village and Stillmeadows. The operation consisted of two officers who spent their entire shift in the neighborhood, plus PACT foot patrol officers and undercover narcotics officers. Together they made over 400 arrests on offenses ranging from loitering to drugs.

That operation ended in September, after the violence and drug trafficking seemed to have subsided -- to the point where the department could no longer justify the overtime money needed to keep Operation Clean Sweep going.

Ernest Spry, a Warfield Homes resident, said he would like to have the patrols back.

"We need them at least part of the time," he said. "There just aren't as many units in the area as there was back in May."

Last March, county police began BAT patrols, or Beat officers Against drug Traffic, in Freetown Village. Separate from the the foot patrols, those officers worked out of the Northern District station.

Police spokesman Officer Richard Molloy said the BAT patrols are still in the neighborhood, although not as often as they were in March.

Late Tuesday night, a Riverdale man was shot in the chest as he answered the door of a home in the 7800 block of Levi Court in Freetown Village.

Molloy said investigators were still looking for the gunman and a motive.

"It would be nice if (police) came back," said Sharon Lewis, president of the Freetown Village Tenants Council. "I've heard of things happening, but it's very seldom that I am out in the community. I really don't hang out in the street."

"It's still not as bad as it was," former tenants council president Anna Hudson said. "But we really haven't had the patrols since September. It was really quiet when the police were here and it would be nice if they came back."

June Waller, assistant director of the county housing authority, which oversees Meade Village and Freetown Village, said police kept their promise to clean up neighborhood.

"The activity has picked up in Freetown Village and on a larger scale Meade Village," she said. "But it's going to go down all the way until residents get out there and do their share."

While residents of the Warfield Homes Community have started their own security patrols, those in Meade Village and Freetown have not.

"There is an element of interest there, but also fear," Waller said.

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