County Executive, Police host safety walk in response to Uptown crime
By: Caitlyn Freeman, Editor in Chief
In response to the recent violent crime incidents, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and local leaders hosted a community meeting and walk in Uptown, Towson, Wednesday evening.
The walk comes on the heels of a recent spree of violent crimes in the Uptown area throughout February, including the killing of 17-year-old Tre’shaun Harmon in a shooting Monday night. Additionally, within the last few weeks, there was a shooting, stabbing and three sexual assaults in the area.
To address the recent incidents, Olszewski said the county plans to provide additional funding for a new license plate reader and additional cameras for businesses and the community. Additionally, the county plans to increase patrol officers in the area.
Olszewski and Chief of Police Dennis Delp began the evening by meeting with stakeholders, including the Executive Director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, Nancy Hafford, and community members.
“Towson is a vibrant, growing, attractive place for residents to be,” he told reporters. “We welcome all people to come to Towson, to come to Baltimore County. But again, we expect appropriate behavior here, and if you’re going to engage in inappropriate behavior, particularly violent behavior, you will be found, you will be held accountable.”
Echoing Olszewski, Delp reiterated the overall safety of Uptown and said the new technologies will aid the department in “deterrence and apprehension purposes.”
The group began walking around Uptown, stopping at several local businesses, including Barley’s Backyard Uptown, located at 408 York Rd, and the Towson Tavern at 516 York Rd.
Jill Packo, co-owner of the Backyard, reiterated her support of the community to Olszewski and reporters, saying the response to crime given by the police is unlike other areas.
“To have a business here is very rewarding,” she said. “We’re very happy to be part of the Towson Chamber of Commerce. We love our police department.”
The meeting was also attended by Towson University’s Chief of Police, Joe Herring, and Vice President of Student Affairs, Vernon Hurte. In response to the incidents, which occurred outside of Towson University Police jurisdiction, the university reiterated its efforts to support community safety in several campus-wide messages.
“Even though none of these events have taken place on our campus, they have a direct impact on our students, faculty, staff, alumni and neighbors,” Wednesday’s email read.
In January 2022, the university gave County Police a $370,000 grant to fund two additional overnight patrol officers in Uptown.
“The university has been a key partner,” Olszewski said in an interview. “We’re very grateful for their support to have additional patrols throughout Towson. Working closely with our police department anytime there’s an incident. So we look forward to furthering the work that we’ve been doing and finding ways if we can or should do more together, we absolutely are willing to do that.”
Additionally, he emphasized the importance of community partnership to address the safety concerns posed by residents in response to the recent incidents.
“We’re gonna step up and do even more until folks both are safe and feel safe,” Olszewski said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes.”