Juvenile crime growing in county, residents told Need for communication noted at first meeting of Citizens Advisory Council

November 21, 1996|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

Howard County police told residents last night that the problem of juvenile crime is growing. While a small gathering of citizens sat patiently in Long Reach High School's cafeteria, police officers read aloud crime statistics and spoke of ways to combat what many see is a growing menace in the county.

Maj. Wayne Livesay said that the police have been surprised to find that more and more juveniles are being arrested in street crimes, especially robberies.

Violent crime in the county was up by 77 percent in 1996, with the number of robberies almost doubling.

"Most of the robberies can be attributed to juveniles from our neighborhoods," said Police Chief James Robey.

"We've also identified groups of kids in Howard County who have given themselves gang names, but please don't think that there are Bloods or Crips [gang names made famous in Los Angeles] in the schools," he said.

Robey spoke briefly about the importance of having an open line of communication between the police and residents.

"We've learned that there are a lot of issues out there that the police need to know about," Robey said. "We don't want to wait until they explode."

Larry Aaronson, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council, said that the exchange of ideas between the group and police has been beneficial to both.

"Columbia is a community of activists," Aaronson said before the meeting. "I think that everyone who comes to these kind of meetings is actively involved in their community or neighborhoods, and we can all work together to solve some of Howard's problems."

While two of the topics raised at last night's discussion came as no surprise to the group -- juvenile crime and teen-age gangs -- they were no less disturbing to the crowd of concerned parents and grandparents.

The key to reducing crime, Robey said, is stronger community policing and for people to become more involved in their communities.

Paul Lubell, an advisory council board member and Oakland Mills resident, agreed.

"I'm from Manhattan so crime here is nothing," he said. "But it is important that people become active and take an interest their neighborhoods.

"We are making a pro-active attempt to make contact with the police, to show that we're out there."

Pub Date: 11/21/96

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