By: Mikey Olszewski, Contributing Writer
Photo by Meghan Hudson / The Towerlight
Towson University (TU) has given the Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) a grant to increase public safety in the Uptown area of Towson. This grant will fund overtime pay for two additional overnight police officers to patrol the area of Uptown Towson and has been effective as of Jan. 25.
Towson Director of Public Safety and TUPD Chief Joe Herring commented on the partnership with BCoPD.
“We work very closely with our partners in the Baltimore County Police Department on a daily basis, with the shared goal of protecting and serving our community,” said Herring.
According to TUPD’s online crime log, since the beginning of January through March 2022, on-campus alone there have been 12 reports of theft, 13 reports of alcohol/drug-related offenses, 12 reports of vandalism, five reports of assault, four reports of sexual offenses, and one report of stalking.
As for off-campus crime, according to the Towson University crime alert system, there have been two armed persons/shootings off-campus, an armed carjacking off-campus, an armed robbery off-campus, and a tragic homicide of a Towson Student in the Uptown area of Towson.
Each of these reported incidents occurred within close proximity to campus and the campus community.
With these recently observed incidents of crime in the Towson area, many students and faculty have expressed concern. Alexis Derosa, a sophomore at TU, expressed concern with her tuition dollars being spent on increased policing.
“I wish Baltimore County would be putting more funding into our safety, not our own [tuition], because we come to Uptown to have fun–not worry about possibly getting shot”, said Derosa.
Senior Elizabeth Forrer had mixed feelings about TU giving BCoPD grant money for increased police presence.
“People are going to do what they want and act how they please,” Forrer said. “A lot of this crime we’ve seen has been in Uptown, but not necessarily by Towson students. I am not sure what the answer is. Yes, more police would be nice, but at the end of the day [crime] can only be stopped from where it starts,” said Forrer.
Baltimore County Police has a 2022 budget of $267 million- the second largest budget in Baltimore County, next to Baltimore County Public Schools.
TU’s President, Kim Schatzel, responded to questions about the recent activity in Uptown by condemning the idea that there is an increase in crime in Towson.
“The crime rates are actually down from last year,” Schatzel said. “The county executive shared the fact that we’re actually down 17% as compared to last year. So overall, we’re not looking at the fact that there’s been a dramatic increase in terms of that,” said Schatzel.
Sophomore Kay Dumont was unhappy with President Schatzel’s statement regarding crime and said she believes other factors may have had a role in lowering crime rates over the past two years.
“There’s a lot of environmental factors that lowered the crime rates compared to last year, such as COVID-19,” said Dumont. “If the [crime rate] numbers are rising again, changes should be made because there were a lot of different environmental factors a year ago that we couldn’t control that lowered crime rates. It isn’t because we magically did everything right.”
“If crime rates are down, why is TU giving grant money to BCPD for extra policing?” she added.
The Baltimore County Government also keeps a crime report dashboard on its website, which can be found on their website. According to this dashboard, overall crime went down by 15.1% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
The dashboard website has yet to be updated with statistics from 2021, but looking at the 2017, 2018, and 2019 statistics, crime rates in Baltimore County had been decreasing annually before the COVID-19 pandemic.