To reach her desk each day, Baltimore County police Officer Karen Marbury usually has to dodge a basketball or two, sidestep checkerboards and maneuver around a plastic toy auto garage and cars on the floor.
For the former Marine, a world weightlifting champion, these minor obstacles are part of the job as Hillendale's new Police Athletic League officer, coordinating activities for children ages 7 to 17.
A seven-year veteran of the county police force, Marbury, 32, took over the post June 2, leaving Western Traffic Division. Now, instead of autos, her charges will be hundreds of children who crowd into the PAL center in the gym at Halstead Academy.
Marbury replaces Officer James Anthony Barr, who was reassigned to White Marsh Precinct in April amid protests from two dozen parents who picketed at the county courthouse in Towson about his removal.
Capt. George M. Harvey of the Towson Precinct said last week that Barr's transfer was an administrative decision. Harvey, who was involved in selecting a new PAL officer for Hillendale, said Marbury was chosen because "she brings a positive role model to the community and kids."
Last year, about 21,000 children participated in programs at the drop-in center operated by the police, the county Recreation and Parks Department, county schools and the Community Counseling and Resource Center in Cockeysville. Many of the children are considered "at-risk," Marbury said.
They will not have to endure tight quarters for long. The county plans to spend $1.2 million next year to build a PAL center next to the school.
Marbury's goal is "to get more kids in the neighborhood and more parents involved," she said.
The officer wants the children to respect her and other officers in the community.
"My main purpose is to let them get to know a police officer," she said.
Pub Date: 6/17/97