Towson officers

At the time the addition of three officers for the Towson precinct as announced May 1, it was also announced that the precinct would get three electric standup vehicles, pictured here. (Photo courtesy Baltimore County / October 28, 2013)

At a recent meeting of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, Capt. Richard Howard, commander of the Towson precinct, warned community leaders that cold weather and the upcoming holiday season could lead to a spike in crime in Towson.

But to this point, Howard and his officers have been fighting back Towson's crime rate without the three additional officers promised in May that were meant to aid the precinct.

"We want these positions filled as quickly as possible, but we have to follow our personnel procedures," Cpl. Cathy Batton, a police spokeswoman, said.

County Police Chief Jim Johnson pledged three additional officers to Towson in May during a press conference detailing the county's 2012 crime statistics. Though crime was down across Baltimore County, there was an increase in Towson's crime rate over past years, due to a spike in commercial thefts and thefts from vehicles, Johnson said.

Johnson and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said at the time that the officers would be deployed at night in the Towson commercial core, thereby freeing up other officers to patrol residential neighborhoods.

The first of the three officers begins on Friday, Nov. 1, Batton said. The other two positions are still being filled, she said.

"This is a specialized assignment within the command, which mean's there's an application and an interview process," Batton said. "In addition, when officers transfer into those positions, we have to make sure we're not leaving a vacancy in another command when a transfer occurs."

In the meantime, Batton said additional financial resources and manpower have been utilized by the Towson precinct to combat crime. The department increased funding for foot patrols and crime prevention details in the precinct, she said. Additionally, countywide and precinct-specific details such as the business patrol initiative, off-campus enforcement team, community action team, and the K-9 unit have increased patrols in Towson.

But community leaders are pressing the department to expedite the process and give the precinct the manpower it pledged six months ago.

Councilman David Marks, who represents the 5th District including Towson, said he's had "at least two conversations in the last two weeks" with Johnson about "getting these police officers on the street as fast as possible."

"I'm getting a sense that there's a real concern about some of these random incidents," Marks said.

Marks referred to several brazen incidents, reported by police, that have raised the community's concern in recent weeks.

On Monday, Oct. 21, at 10:20 p.m., according to a police report, a pair of masked men pulled a knife and robbed Towson Wine & Spirits, located in a strip of small restaurants on East Pennsylvania Avenue.

At 2:50 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20, police said three men, one of whom was carrying a shotgun, robbed a homeless man and woman at a bus stop at the corner of Dulaney Valley Road and Olympic Place in downtown Towson.

Early on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 5, a local business owner who was walking his dog was robbed at gunpoint by a pair of men at the corner of Towsontown Boulevard and Washington Avenue, police reported.

At 1 a.m. Sept. 29, police said a man suffered severe head injuries after he was jumped from behind walking down York Road from Lil' Dicky's Saloon to the Towson University Marriott around 1 a.m. He awoke in a nearby creek several hours later.

Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said she herself has met with police officials about the additional officers.

"I just think that given the amount of people that are in bars at night, and letting out on the streets, there's double the amount that it used to be five years ago," she said. "It's good to have more officers to be able to assist during that time."