Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane vows his officers will do what it takes to drive the criminal element responsible for the recent spike in violence in Edgewood, that includes several shootings and a murder in the past couple of weeks, out of the community.
"This is not going to be a show of force where we're in a couple of days and we leave. We are in this for the long haul," Bane told about 40 people who attended a community meeting at the Edgewood Recreation Center Wednesday evening. "We are in here for, well, we won't go into how long we're going to be here, but we're actually going to be here for as long as it takes."
"We have to get the message to the criminal element in this community and other communities that you do not own this community, it belongs to the people, and the Sheriff's Office is going to do whatever it can to make sure that that happens," Bane said.
Bane elaborated on his summer initiative addressing violence and crime in Edgewood, saying that it would be a large police presence, and pointed to Capt. Jon Krass, the Southern Precinct Commander, whom he said will be the main contact person for the initiative.
Bane added that the initiative would not leave other areas in the county unprotected and said deputies would be putting in a lot of time "over and above what they normally do as a part of their duties."
"This is going to cost overtime and it's going to take a vast amount of resources," Bane said. "We are focusing a tremendous amount of resources and we are going to be spending a tremendous amount of money to get this area where it needs to be."
Capt. Duane Williams from the Special Investigations Division told the audience about the work his division is doing in Edgewood, adding the caveat that most of it was undercover or wiretap-related and, thus, the community wouldn't know much about it.
He said the division had secured about 16 felony indictments with about five more pending, and also had executed six search and seizure warrants in Edgewood.
"That just gives you a rough idea of what we've been doing down here. Our theme up there is it's not the ones you see, it's the ones you don't see that you got to be concerned about, and that's what we do," Williams said. "So, we do work behind the scenes with these drug investigations, but trust me, we are out there and we are working these investigations."
Williams asked the audience to come to him if they have any information in relation to drug cases, noting, "we are very dependent upon your tips."
Wednesday's community meeting was held at the Edgewood Recreation Center on Brookside Drive in the Edgewater Village neighborhood, not far from where a 24-year-old man was found shot to death June 21. It was the second murder in the community this year.
Shaneise Ware, of Fountain Rock Way, recounted two shootings close to where she lives. In one shooting, Ware said it took police more than 20 minutes to get there. The second shooting took place right in front of her house.
"It was a good thing that I was taking the trash out that day, because if one of my boys would've taken out the trash, they would've actually seen this man laying outside," Ware said. "When I went outside, I actually had to administer CPR to this man. He actually lived and I pray to God that I went outside."
Ware said that conditions on Fountain Rock Way were "terrible," with streetlights knocked down, busted windows and kids jumping on cars. She asked how long response times to a 911 call should be.
Bane responded that response times could vary because of the nature of the call and that officers may be backed up with other calls, and that some calls require multiple squad cars. Bane cited a statistic that there are 0.8 police officers available for patrol per 1,000 people in Harford County, while the state and national averages are 2.7 per 1,000.
"With limited resources, there's only so much we can do," Bane said, noting that despite the poor ratio, Harford still had the second lowest crime rate in the state, while nearby Baltimore County was ranked 16th, Cecil County was ranked 20th and Baltimore City was ranked 24th.
"That's good policing, that's good leadership, and that's smart use of resources," he said.
Every division involved
Bane introduced Capt. John Bowman from Special Operations as "the one who put the plan together" and is another point of contact for the initiative. Bowman said the initiative will draw from every division in the agency, not just the Southern Precinct, which includes Edgewood, or Special Operations.