As the police move resources into the downtown area, though, other parts of the precinct worry what that will mean for their neighborhoods.

Rob Williams, a Rodgers Forge resident and volunteer for the group Citizens on Patrol, often cruises the residential neighborhood and downtown Towson's bustling late-night bar scene along York Road.

"That's where all the police are," he said of the bars along the York Road corridor. "If Towson continues to build up the way it is, the police resources are going to be there, and that's going to pull the resources away from the community."

Police say they are committed to protecting the entire precinct, and are encouraging residents to help by reporting criminal activity when they see it.

Another Citizens on Patrol group recently formed in central Towson, where volunteer Pat France says she's encouraging businesses to join residents in keeping watch to fight crime.

Johnson, the police chief, said detectives have worked to solve several cases of street robbery in Towson, which they believe were committed by a handful of offenders.

"They simply roam throughout the metro region committing these robberies. They look for prime targets, individuals who are alone or perhaps not paying attention," Johnson said during a recent public appearance.

Hartman, the community group representative, gave credit to police for solving the cases and noted that the county has been receptive to community concerns.

"Solving the crimes, they are doing their job at that. So I guess the issue is: How do we prevent the crimes?" he said.

Spivey, the Towson student, was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he underwent surgery, after the November stabbing. Police have since charged three men with attempted murder in the attack.

The weeks of recovery cost Spivey his fall semester. He is now planning to return and finish his degree in digital illustration.

"I didn't come back to Towson for a while. I stayed at my grandmother's house" in Prince George's County, Spivey said. He said he still feels safe in Towson and continues to travel by foot. "I've just been pretty jumpy on my walks home at night."

A previous version of this story made an incorrect reference to an incident at the Towson Town Center Mall.

Towson precinct crime statistics

January through September 2013 vs. five-year average for comparable period

2013, Average, Increase

Robberies, 120, 113, 6.2%

Aggravated assault, 164, 145, 13.1%

Violent crime, 293, 268, 9.3%

Total crime*, 2,271, 2,181, 4.1%

*Covers violent crime and property crime

Source: Baltimore County Police