COOL officers target hot spots of crime in Anne Arundel Co.

Police unit finds success saturating area for month

August 22, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

These officers have defined cool.

This month, Anne Arundel County's Eastern District police began the second wave of a program they're calling Cops Out On Loan - COOL for short.

The program borrows about a dozen officers - from the tactical patrol unit and each of the four shifts - for a month to target a small geographical area experiencing a crime wave.

Eastern District lieutenants created the first unit in spring after they determined that a small area around North Arundel Hospital accounted for 67 percent of the district's robberies from January through March.

When the COOL unit hit the streets in May, robberies in the area dropped from 54 in the first three months of the year to zero that month, police said. Officers made 79 arrests, seized several guns and recovered $5,000 in drugs, said Capt. William F. Rothenbecker.

"And there's no possible way of calculating how many robberies and other crimes they prevented just by being in the area," he said.

The area's location, near Interstate 97 and Crain Highway, and drug activity have made it especially vulnerable to robberies and auto thefts, police said.

"We cut the officers loose over there," said Lt. Donald J. Hauf, who organizes the program.

In May, uniformed COOL officers patrolled the apartment complexes around the hospital nearly 24 hours a day. The unit simultaneously operated drug stings from vacant rooms provided by apartment managers, police said.

Since that COOL unit left the Glen Burnie neighborhood 2 1/2 months ago, six robberies have occurred, Hauf said, compared with seven robberies in April alone.

The COOL unit might have left the area, but the district's bicycle patrol remains.

"We have [criminals] on the run," Hauf said. "Now we want to keep them from coming back."

The program's success prompted the district to deploy a second COOL unit last week. Like the first group, these officers are concentrating on the Millersville-Glen Burnie area and work mainly at night.

Rothenbecker said nearly all of the district's 114 officers want to participate in the program, so, with the exception of Hauf, the second unit has different members than the first.

As for the acronym, Hauf said he came up with it when he took part in a similar operation about 10 years ago.

"I was just joking around, but the name stuck," he said.

The officers not directly participating in the program "pick up the slack" to maintain low 911 response times throughout the district, Rothenbecker said.

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