Oliver plans to modify tow truck legislation


May 30, 2007

Baltimore County Councilman Kenneth N. Oliver said yesterday that he plans to modify legislation he had introduced designed to quicken the response of tow companies to police calls for service.

The proposal calls for a private contractor to dispatch towing companies to accidents - a job now handled by police officers. And the legislation would increase the number of towing companies that are licensed to provide their services to police, allowing more minority-owned companies to compete for the work, said Oliver, a Randallstown Democrat.

Oliver introduced the first draft of the towing measure earlier this month, but said he withdrew it last week to make modifications such as specifying that the new companies much have a storage area open on weekends so that owners can retrieve their vehicles more quickly.

"There were little but important things we missed," said Oliver.

The revised bill is scheduled to be introduced at the council meeting Monday, when the council begins meeting at 6 p.m. for the summer.

Currently, when police need a tow truck, an officer must call one of the 33 licensed tow companies that have designated territories in the county, officials said.

The county's police chief and command staff requested the changes in how the tow trucks are dispatched, because they believe the current system is not an effective, efficient use of officers' time, said Donald I. Mohler III, a county spokesman.

Under the current system, a towing company has to prove a "need" for their service before they can qualify for a license to do work for the county police.

"It decreases competition and has created a cartel," said Mohler.

Under the proposed legislation, the "need" criteria is removed, Mohler said.

Police have found about 300 incidents of tow companies overcharging for their service over a two-year period, officials say.

"It's consumer protection legislation that will reduce overcharges and expedite consumers getting cars back," Mohler said.

While praising Oliver's efforts, Councilman John A. Olszewski Sr. said the bill first proposed needed a few adjustments.

"We need to spell out the criteria, such as days of operation, to make it clear what is needed," said Olszewski, a Dundalk Democrat.

Laura Barnhardt

Middle River

Man charged with killing girlfriend

A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend in a Middle River home over the weekend, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

Jerry Levon Banks, 28, had slashed his wrists and was spattered with blood when he approached police officers outside a shopping center on Eastern Blvd. about 9:30 a.m. Sunday and told them that he thought he had killed his girlfriend, police said.

Shortly after, police discovered the body of Shukura Akilah Abdullah Aleem, 21, in the basement of a home in the 100 block of Riverthorn Road. Police believe that Banks strangled Aleem during an argument.

The residents of the home had invited Banks and Aleem, who were homeless, to stay with them, a police spokesman said.

Banks was denied bail and was being held at a local hospital, police said.

Julie Scharper

Hunt Valley

Man's death is ruled a suicide

A man whose body was found in a wooded area near the Hunt Valley shopping center apparently committed suicide, police said yesterday.

Baltimore County police identified the man as James Cassidy, a 52-year-old resident of an assisted living facility in the 3500 block of Old Frederick Road in Baltimore. He had been reported missing May 21, and his body was found Monday evening, police said.

Police traced a shotgun and a box found near Cassidy's body and found that he bought the shotgun May 3 at Dick's Sporting Goods in the shopping center, police spokesman Cpl. Michael Hill said.

Cassidy's death, which was caused by a gunshot to the head, was ruled a suicide by a medical examiner. A suicide note was found with the body, Hill said.

Julie Scharper


Two are named Presidential Scholars

Two students from George Washington Carver Center for Arts & Technology have been named Presidential Scholars, school officials recently announced.

The honor gives the school in Towson more Presidential Scholars than any other school in the state, said county school officials.

Vera Fomenkov, a Carver student from Owings Mills, and Scott Giblin of Towson were named Presidential Scholars by the U.S. Department of Education, which administers the program.

They will join the other Presidential Scholars to be honored next month during a ceremony in Washington, where they will meet President Bush.


Clinics to offer rabies shots for pets

The Baltimore County Department of Health has scheduled four outdoor clinics in the next two weeks to provide rabies shots for dogs, cats and ferrets.

A clinic is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Franklin High School, 12000 Reisterstown Road, Reisterstown.

Other clinics are scheduled for: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Honeygo Run Regional Park, 9033 Honeygo Boulevard, Perry Hall; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 6 at Grange Elementary School, 2000 Church Road, Dundalk; and 10 a.m. to noon June 9 at Overlea High School, 5401 Kenwood Ave.

Vaccinations are $7 per animal, and pet licenses can also be purchased. County law requires pets to be licensed and for rabies vaccinations to be kept current.

The clinics will be held rain or shine. For vaccinations after June 9, call 410-887-5961 for a clinic schedule.

Information: www.baltimorecountymd.gov/go/rabiesclinic.

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