County police arrest 62 in robbery sweep


Howard County police closed 17 robbery cases and arrested 62 people on a variety of charges as part of an initiative to stop street robberies in several Columbia villages during February, the department announced yesterday.

The number of robberies in the county dropped from 40 in January to 14 in February and 16 in March, police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said. The initiative, called by some the Violent Crimes Task Force, focused on the villages of Long Reach, Oakland Mills, Wilde Lake and Harper's Choice.

The initiative began a few days after Police Chief Wayne Livesay promised Long Reach residents a crackdown on loitering, drug-dealing and violence in their village center after a 4-year-old boy was shot by a stray bullet in the living room of his apartment across Tamar Drive.

At that meeting, residents complained of burglaries, finding drug paraphernalia along sidewalks and loitering at the village center's Exxon station and liquor store.

Officers seized more than $12,000, six cars, marijuana and crack and powder cocaine during the effort.

"During the course of the initiative, officers would spot other types of violent crime or arrest someone selling drugs in the community," Llewellyn said. "We believe all of these street crimes are similar in nature. They're often committed by the same people who commit robberies."

Llewellyn said that officers were temporarily reassigned to focus on the robbery initiative. The department has since scaled back the effort but will increase resources again if crime trends show a need.

"What we're looking at is a small group of people impacting the quality of life on the streets of some of our communities," Llewellyn said. "This initiative removed many of those people."

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