Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare said the area isn’t part of a “crime wave,” but it is still important to assuage community fears.
“We have to zig and zag to deal with the fear,” Altomare said. “We are responding to the community.”
Tuesday’s announcement doesn’t bring with it more officers to five light rail stops in the county: Instead, Altomare said he is planning patrols at “strategic times and strategic increases” focused on three of the stations, Camp Meade Road, North Linthicum and Cromwell Station. The other stations are in Ferndale and at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
When asked about specifics, Altomare declined, saying “You want me to telegraph my punches to the bad guys?”
County Executive Steve Schuh said the agreement was an example of two governments working together to make residents feel safer. The agreement also includes plans to put a barrier between the light rail station and Linthicum Elementary school, and lights will be placed along the BWI Trail.
Schuh’s budget doesn’t add new police officers specifically to patrol the light rail stops. He did budget for 20 new police officers, 10 of which will be trained for school resource positions.
“We will be working to make certain the communities that border these stops see and feel an enhanced police presence,” Schuh said. “Individuals who ride these trains can rest assured we will be enforcing the law and finding individuals who jump fares.”
Linthicum resident Steve Schaefer said he appreciated the county taking steps to deal with crime in the area, but he didn’t see it as enough.
Schaefer worked alongside Linthicum resident and Kimberly Burns, a Republican candidate for County Council in District 1, to advocate for increased police presence and the elementary school barrier.
“They should shut down the kiss and ride and Ferndale stops,” he said. “This is a starting point.”
The county and state agreement comes after County Councilmen John Grasso, R-Glen Burnie, and Pete Smith, D-Severn joined together on a resolution that called for more enforcement at the Linthicum stops.
Grasso — who is running for state Senate — sponsored the legislation and Smith. Del. Pamela Beidle, a Democrat from Linthicum who also is running for state Senate, tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation this year that would have required more police presence at the stations and on the trains.
Smith is running for re-election in County Council District 1. He attended the event but wasn’t invited to speak at the podium.
“We want this to be addressed,” Smith said. “At least the citizen’s concerns are being met.”
Sarah Lacey, who is challenging Smith in the Democratic primary next month, said she appreciated the county’s response, but it could have come sooner.
“There needs to be a sense of urgency solving these community problems,” Lacey said. “I wish people didn’t have to fight so hard to get attention and assistance from their government.”