The Wilkens Police & Community Relations Organization has a new president for the first time in a dozen years.
The group, a nonprofit independent of the police department that supports officers of Baltimore County's Wilkens precinct, is now led by Otis Collins, a Halethorpe resident.
The group of about 100 members has been active in the community for more than 30 years. The group holds monthly meetings with police to learn about different aspects of law enforcement and crime trends in the precinct's territory of southwest Baltimore County, as well as recognizing officers for their efforts.
Collins, 61, is a community planning and development specialist for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is also president of the Halethorpe Civic League, a community advocacy group. He is also the chairman of the Kittrell College National Alumni Association's reunion committee. The college was a historically black college in Kittrell, North Carolina, which closed in 1975.
As president of WPCRO, Collins wants to increase the group's presence in the community and get more residents and businesses involved with the group.
"We all know we cannot have a society without strong law enforcement officers serving our community and those officers cannot serve these communities without the strong support of citizens," he said. "We know we have to continue to support that."
Collins replaces Lorna Rudnikas, who after serving as president for 12 years, did not run for re-election. She plans to remain active with the group.
"I think that it's really not healthy for any organization to have the same person in a leadership position for so long," she said. "We need new ideas, new blood."
Rudnikas, who lives in Ellicott City, said she was most proud of the group becoming a nonprofit organization in 2007 and bringing in a variety of guest speakers to its monthly meetings.
Donna Benton attended her first community meeting as commander Dec. 8 in Arbutus, where the Wilkens Police Community Relations Organization was gathering. At that meeting, former commander Capt. Douglas Irwin said goodbye to the group of citizens after a little over three years as precinct leader.
Each of the 10 precincts has a community outreach team of police officers and police community relations councils, organized to foster relationships between police and the community, Ofc. Jen Peach, a spokeswoman, said. Wilkens is the only precinct with an independent group.