Civic groups call for county police to walk a beat downtown

May 25, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Business leaders in Glen Burnie want to bring back a part of days gone by -- the beat officer who strolled the neighborhood, knew the area and took care of downtown.

The North County Chamber of Commerce and the Glen Burnie Improvement Association have drafted a resolution to put a county police officer on foot patrol in the downtown area.

Dan Boyd, chamber president, said no new officers will have to be hired, and therefore the plan probably will not cost any money.

"It will get the police department more established in the community. It does not necessitate more officers, it'll be a temporary relocation of officers for a few hours each day," Mr. Boyd said.

Richard Wengert, president of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, and Mr. Boyd are working with several government officials, including state Sen. Michael J. Wagner, to drum up support for the idea.

Though all the details are not ironed out and a proposal will not reach the county executive for a few weeks, Mr. Boyd does not think there will be a problem getting approval for the measure.

"Not if we can assure that it won't be any strain on the budget and that it won't effect other areas," Mr. Boyd said.

He also added that, by rotating officers, the new beat could begin almost immediately, though the police department has not been formally contacted.

The purpose of the foot patrolman, according to the resolution, is to "protect the safety and welfare of residents and business within the Glen Burnie Town Center."

Chuck Parlato, president of the Heart of Glen Burnie Merchants Association, said the area needs more police.

"We don't see any police cars driving around slowly," he said. "I haven't seen any on bicycles, and the other merchants haven't told me they've seen them."

He said the members of his group, which consists of 35 merchants in the downtown area, support the measure.

One reason for this support, he said, is that they have seen a "noticeable increase" in vandalism, including graffiti, broken glass windows and store doors, since the southern extension of light rail opened.

"There just isn't enough police presence to be a deterrent," he said.

Pam Kaizar, the chamber's executive director, said the foot patrol idea is part of an effort to improve Glen Burnie.

"We're trying to do urban renewal," she said. "We're trying to promote Glen Burnie as a good place to live and work."

Mr. Wengert, who is also a retired police officer, said the area had a foot patrolman many years ago.

"We called him Daddy Welch, that was his last name, and he took care of the downtown area," he said. "A foot patrolman can do a lot of work and learn a lot of things when he's walking the beat."

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