Major leaves a more secure Hillendale Stelmack is moving on, but his police presence will stay to residents' delight

April 08, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

As Baltimore County police Maj. Michael H. Stelmack takes on a new assignment this week, he leaves behind a more visible police presence in the greater Hillendale area.

Bike and foot patrols by police began last week. The Community Action Team -- patrols that target troubled areas -- is expanding its coverage. And a police drop-in station is in the works.

All are efforts to keep the Baltimore County neighborhood, which local officials say is at a turning point, from slipping backward.

"Crime levels are down," Stelmack, now area commander of the Cockeysville and Garrison precincts, told a community group this month.

In recent years, the Hillendale area has been buffeted as crime increased, the number of rental houses grew and test scores dropped at local schools. But several steps, including community policing, have been taken to revive the neighborhood.

"We see a stabilizing influence in the community," said Capt. George Harvey of the Towson precinct. "It's not as bad as people are perceiving."

Residents couldn't be happier.

"People in the community feel secure that something is being done," said Mary Poehlman, who has lived there for 37 years and is president of the Hillendale Improvement Association. "Police protection is very important to people."

The greater Hillendale area -- bounded by Taylor Avenue, Perring Parkway, Loch Raven Boulevard and the city line -- includes about 1,400 homes and 1,800 apartments.

Residents are looking forward to the drop-in police station, which will give officers a place to make phone calls and do paperwork. It also will provide area youths with a chance to meet officers in a nonconfrontational setting, while offering walk-up access to other residents, Harvey said.

The station is expected to be housed in the vacant Murry's Steaks store in the Hillendale Shopping Center at the southeast corner of Loch Raven Boulevard and Taylor Avenue, Poehlman said.

"People will feel more comfortable utilizing the stores in the area," she said. "It's good for them and for the community."

Although the amount of a state grant for the police center has not been determined -- or an opening date set -- Harvey said, "This is going to happen."

Pub Date: 4/08/97

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