Giving due to Robey's public careerWhile Harold Jackson's...


August 16, 1998

Giving due to Robey's public career

While Harold Jackson's column of Aug. 2 ("Either Feaga or Robey will do for some voters") accurately ascribed James Robey's appeal to Howard County voters in large measure to his local roots, it gave short shrift to his outstanding career as a public servant in the county for more than 30 years.

While Mr. Robey's rose in the ranks of the Police Department from rookie in 1966 to chief in 1991, a review of his record by Mr. Jackson was limited to two controversial and extremely difficult cases the chief had to handle (one of which was largely distorted by a national television news segment).

All of The Sun's readers in Howard should know as much of Mr. Robey's record as do those who support him because of it.

In a fast-growth metropolitan area, police work involves more than arresting law breakers and controlling highway traffic. It touches every aspect of life in the community, including education, public health, social services, growth and economic development.

Realizing this, Mr. Robey's record is replete with innovative programs to assist the county in addressing these concerns, including: Establishing the Police Foundation, an organization of business leaders who lend management expertise and financial support to the department.

Creating a police auxiliary program, which provides trained civilians to handle nonenforcement services such as traffic control.

Creating the Police Youth Academy to provide positive interaction between youth and police officers.

Establishing the high school liaison program with a police sergeant and two officers assigned full-time to high schools, and an after-school program to provide a learning environment for selected children during the hours when statistics indicate many criminal activities occur involving them.

The initiation of "community policing" programs by Mr. Robey, featuring satellite offices and bike patrols at locations requiring more police presence, have produced statistically demonstrable reductions in crime. According to recent uniform crime statistics, Howard County has continued to see a per-capita crime rate fare below the state average and consistently the lowest in the metropolitan Baltimore-Washington area. It has dropped more than 33 percent during the last six months as the programs Mr. Robey initiated as chief continue their effectiveness.

All of this adds up to qualifications far exceeding those with service limited to legislative duties on the County Council, with absolutely no experience in managing a government agency.

William S. Parsons

Ellicott City In response to the article, "Howard rejects rezoning for a mall," in The Sun in Howard on July 30, I must state that another mistake has been made by the zoning board.

The recent rejection of the Howard County Zoning Board members to rezone the property across from the Long Gate Shopping Center to commercial was another mistake It evidently had its eyes closed in 1993 and again in 1998.

I commend Charles C. Feaga for his comments and for casting the only dissenting vote. He told The Sun, "I think we are elected to have a good common-sense. A governing board has to go a little bit beyond that [law]book."

The big issue across from the Long Gate Shopping Center on the north side of Montgomery Road is safety. There are less than a handful of residents living in these houses. These residents, along with the Bethel Baptist Church members, are in great danger when they enter and exit their driveways.

Suggestions by residents of local subdivisions to put up fences, walls, planting trees, shrubs will not solve the safety issue. I have 100 trees on my property now, not counting the woods between the YMCA and my property which is probably another 100 or more. Planting more trees, shrubs, putting up fences and walls will only block motorists' vision when exiting driveways.

Our neighbors in surrounding areas stated we had done nothing to screen out the problems created by the shopping center. Why should we? Why would we? What would it solve in regards to safety? C. Vernon Gray stated in the same article "that the zoning board in 1993 presumed there would be noise and there would be some odor. We did not enter in this with our eyes closed. Our eyes were open."

Well, they did not look at this property then or now. They did not examine the driveways or take a look at the trash containers across from the houses; see traffic backed up from the light at the entrance to the shopping center, or visit the church and try to make a left turn out of its parking lot or make a left turn into any of the properties just east of the Long Gate Shopping Center entrance. They did not attempt to go out any of the driveways and see, due to the elimination of the shoulder, that they must get into the fast lane of traffic to get out.

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