150 turn out to discuss hiring private Rodgers Forge patrol BALTIMORE COUNTY

June 15, 1993|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

More than 150 Rodgers Forge residents turned out for a meeting called last night to discuss the idea of hiring a private security patrol. They also got a 15-minute sales pitch from the owner of a security firm that would like the business.

Frightened by a string of sexual assaults and robberies in the area in recent weeks, some residents welcomed the idea, which could cost them close to $500 a year per household. Others expressed more fear of becoming a community in which people are locked inside their homes, protected by armed guards.

"That's not the [kind of] community in which I want to live," said Bob Arrington. Instead, he urged residents to tackle the problem together.

"By living in the community, playing in the streets, walking our dogs, washing our cars -- by staying in the streets and continuing to do what we have been doing, we can solve this ourselves," he said.

Mr. Arrington and other speakers urged John Joseph Dickerson, who called the meeting without the endorsement of the Rodgers Forge Community Association, to take his ideas and concerns first to the association's board, which may consider other, less drastic options.

Mr. Dickerson said he felt rebuffed by the board's president, Don Grauel, when he approached him with the security patrol idea several weeks ago. But he said last night he would try again.

"I still think the private security patrol is the way to go, but I will talk with Don Grauel," Mr. Dickerson said.

Mr. Grauel said a private patrol may well be the way to go. He had been considering a general meeting of the association to tackle the crime issue, but in the wake of last night's meeting, he worried that few would show up. He said he was now considering a survey of the community's 1,800 homes to gauge the sentiment on how to deal with crime prevention.

"It may be that people have more ideas than we give them credit for," he said. "Unfortunately, that's going to look like we're dragging our feet."

Last night's sales pitch came from Robert Blackburn, chief operating officer of Blackburn Security Services, which provides private patrol services to residents of Baltimore's Bolton Hill neighborhood. He claimed that crime has dropped 56 percent in the past year in the patrolled area, and during the times the patrol operates.

Property owners are charged $490 a year each for the service, which includes four officers a night, seven nights a week.

Mr. Dickerson said he invited Mr. Blackburn to give a presentation on private security because he was an acquaintance. He said "it hurt me personally" to hear whispers in the neighborhood that he has financial ties to Blackburn. He said he doesn't.

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