Police work to cool down local hot spot

State program places undercover officers on a troubled street

Drug-related activity

Anti-crime effort has produced results in village center

September 19, 1999|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

Buoyed for the third year by funds from the state's anti-crime HotSpot program, Columbia's Village of Long Reach has seen tangible results: The once run-down village center is no longer defined by loiterers and poor lighting, and the police satellite station has a full-time staff of four.

But just across Tamar Drive, within walking distance of Long Reach High School and the Interfaith Center, is a street residents say continues to be troubled with crime.

Howard County police recently began working undercover on Yellowrose Court -- a "hot spot" within the HotSpot -- to stem drug activity and address residents' complaints about everything from breaking and entering to destruction of property.

The street, which is less than a half-mile long, has 60 townhouses. According to police statistics, there have been 78 calls for service there this year -- more than one for every residence. That includes four for assault, five for disorderly conduct, seven for destruction of property, three for fighting and one each for arson and a shooting.

"We have had some serious assaults, some street robberies [and] fights" on Yellowrose Court, said Sgt. Morris Carroll, a spokesman for county police. "The people that are assaulting each other, that are involved in the robberies, they're all somehow involved in drug distribution."

Said one resident, who asked not to be identified: "What they did is move out of the village center and into my yard. When you clean one drug area, they move on to the next."

The arrests of three men Sept. 7 are part of an effort to focus crime-fighting and crime-prevention resources in a specific part of the HotSpot -- Yellowrose Court. Until recently, residents there said they had been overlooked.

Suspicious behavior

The effort began about two months ago when residents contacted HotSpot Officer Lisa Myers with complaints of drug activity and other suspicious behavior. She tipped off the Police Department's vice and narcotics division, which launched an undercover investigation.

Sue Parker, the covenant adviser for Long Reach, visited Yellowrose Court about two weeks ago to investigate alleged covenant violations on several properties.

"If this is how the system should work, then it worked," said John Snyder, vice chairman of the Long Reach Village Board. "The problem is so solvable that you can come up with [a plan] like this and execute it in a short amount of time."

About 11: 30 p.m. Sept. 7, undercover narcotics officers seized about $3,000 worth of drugs -- 22 one-gram bags of marijuana and 15 bags of crack cocaine -- and $167 in cash and arrested Turon Anthony Kosh, 20, of the 14000 block of Bowie Road in Laurel and Barry Anthony Faucette, 22, of the 8700 block of Tamar Drive, police said. Both were charged with two counts each of drug possession, possession with the intent to distribute and possession of paraphernalia.

Parole violation

Also arrested was Dennis Ray Hawkins, 37, of the 8700 block of Tamar Drive, who, authorities said, was being sought by military police on a parole violation. At the time of his arrest, Faucette was serving three years' probation on a 1998 robbery and drug conviction in Howard Circuit Court. Faucette's probation officer, Joseph W. Parks, who works out of the police satellite office, said he also supervises two people who live on Yellowrose Court, one on parole and one on probation.

Earlier this summer, another incident occurred on Yellowrose. About 12: 30 a.m. July 20, officers responded to a street robbery in which 15 to 20 people assaulted three people, Carroll said. During the fight, police said, one of the victims was robbed of $200 and a pair of shoes. No arrests have been made in that case.

One resident, who asked not to be named for safety reasons, said the problems in the neighborhood have been going on for a while.

Police calls increase

Police statistics bear that out: In 1998, there were 82 calls for service on Yellowrose Court, including eight for theft, seven for disorderly conduct, four for domestic disturbances and three for drug violations. Police also issued one arrest warrant and located two wanted subjects.

In 1997, there were 120 calls for service.

"There are parenting issues, there are issues with the children, there are drug issues, there are destruction of property issues, there is fighting, there are just a multitude of problems that no one person's going to be able to deal with," the resident said.

The resident said the problems seem to revolve around the activities at six of the 60 residences on Yellowrose Court, a mix of owner-occupied and rental units.

Police would not discuss details of their operations because there may be more arrests.

"We're not done there," said Capt. Mike Kessler, commander of the Southern District. "It'll go on as long as we need to fix it."

Pub Date: 9/19/99

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