County police foot patrols have returned to Meade Village in Severn in an attempt to get residents involved in anti-drug efforts before warm weather brings an inevitable increase in street crime.
"The primary goal is to get that community organized," county police Capt. Richard Smith said. "They have to take enforcement actions, but we want to get the community on its feet."
The patrols, which began last spring in the 200-unit public housing development, ended in October when some of the officers were shifted to work in elementary school drug education programs.
Now, two officers will again patrol the neighborhood almost every day, alternating schedules, Smith said. While Meade Village will be the officers'primary responsibility, they also will provide backup assistance to other officers in nearby Warfield Homes, Smith said.
The foot patrols are a back-to-basics approach that officials hope will foster a relationship between the officers and residents.
"We are here to reduce the fear factor," said Officer Kevin Tribull. "When these peoplesee a drug transaction, they don't even call the police."
Tribull and his partner, Officer Jeff Little, hope to change that by being aconstant presence in the community.
"We can work closer with the community than the patrol officer in the car," Little said.
The officers also are expected to pass on information about drug trafficking to the district narcotics officers.
Last May, police began Operation Clean Sweep in Warfield Homes, Meade Village and Stillmeadows. That program, which included foot patrol officers and undercover narcotics officers, resulted in more than 400 arrests.