Police brace for seasonal crime Baltimore Co. patrols expanded for start of holiday shopping

November 28, 1997|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

Because of erroneous information supplied by the Baltimore County Police Department, an article in yesterday's editions incorrectly described two of seven commercial-corridor areas being given extra police patrols. The two areas are Baltimore National Pike from Ingleside Avenue to Nuwood Drive and Liberty Road from St. Lukes Lane to Brenbrook Drive.

The Sun regrets the errors.

The second phase of a countywide effort to discourage commercial robberies begins today with the addition of 28 officers to the Business Patrol Initiative, a program that puts extra police in seven commercial corridors troubled by stealing and break-ins.

The expansion is timed to coincide with today's start of the Christmas shopping season, because the holiday increase in retail sales brings a corresponding increase in crime against businesses, Baltimore County police said.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"From the end of November through December -- we always see that as the peak part of the year," said Capt. John Gaither of the Cockeysville precinct in northern Baltimore County. "It really addresses commercial robberies, but more than that, too," Gaither said of the initiative.

His precinct will have four officers working two stretches of York Road, he said, with extra patrol coverage from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. He said the increased police presence could reduce such crimes as vagrancy, thefts on parking lots, even shoplifting.

Expansion of the program, which began with 12 officers in six locations last month, is being funded by a federal grant, said Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey.

The program's expansion will be officially launched today in Gaither's precinct, with Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan and others from county law enforcement attending a brief ceremony at the Scotts Corner Shopping Center on York Road at 10: 30 a.m.

The expanded program will run until Jan. 3, then drop back to pre-holiday staffing levels until February, when the new crop of police recruits graduates from the academy.

Once the new recruits are assigned, the expanded program of patrols will resume, police spokesman Toohey said.

The expanded initiative will put officers in patrol cars on seven commercial corridors in the county. They are:

Baltimore National Pike from the city line to Rolling Road;

Liberty Road from Interstate 695 to Brenbrook Road;

Reisterstown Road from the city line to I-695;

York Road from the city line to Fairmount Avenue and from Timonium Road to Warren Road;

Belair Road from the city line to Chapel Road;

Pulaski Highway from the city line to the Beltway;

Eastern Avenue from Woodward Avenue to Harrison Avenue, and from the 7500 block to the 8400 block of Eastern.

Police Department statistics indicate that those areas accounted for 31 percent of all commercial robberies and 27.5 percent of all bank robberies in the county in the first six months of 1997, police spokesman Toohey said.

Each precinct commander has been given some flexibility in deploying the business patrol teams assigned to his precinct.

In the Wilkens precinct, which has reported a 5.4 percent increase in robberies for the first nine months of this year over last year's incidents, Capt. John Spiroff said he would pair his three BPI officers with other special teams to deter and investigate commercial crime.

"If I see a slight increase in robberies in one area, I'll put them in strategic locations," Spiroff said.

Like several other precinct captains, Spiroff said the increased visibility that extra patrols would bring could help deter crime.

In an effort to garner support in the business community for the program, several precinct commanders have met with business associations and individual business owners and employees.

"I had a BPI kickoff," said Capt. Richard D. Weih, commander of the Woodlawn precinct, who invited the area's business owners to a meeting about the BPI program. The commander also went to business association meetings to spread the word.

Although Woodlawn's robbery rate has dipped slightly for the first nine months of 1997 -- it dropped 5.7 percent below 1996 figures -- Weih says the extra officers that BPI has brought are needed.

"They'll be able to follow up, set up business watch programs like neighborhood programs," Weih said.

Officer Steven Morano, in the Wilkens precinct, has been assigned to the BPI program since it began Oct. 13. Morano said the close association with business owners has helped the police in their investigations, because the business people pay close attention to events and people in the area.

"A lot of times, the business community -- they know more than we know. They're out there every day. They're a resource for us," Morano said. "They have a lot more at stake -- it's their livelihood."

Pub Date: 11/28/97

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