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Unified voice rallies against crime for Towson's National Night Out

Citizens on Patrol vehicles participate in a National Night Out parade along Register Avenue in Towson.
Citizens on Patrol vehicles participate in a National Night Out parade along Register Avenue in Towson. (Photo by Steve Ruark)

For two hours Tuesday night, members of the Towson Area Citizens on Patrol made their presence felt in every corner of the neighborhood.

They wore out their car horns, waved until their arms were sore and, in one case, used the siren on their personal vehicles so much that it stopped working.

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It was, as Towson Area Citizens on Patrol President Mike Calwell called it, "a wailing good time."

Across the country, community activists and police groups celebrated National Night Out Tuesday, and in Towson, they did it bigger than ever.

Calwell said this year's edition had more of everything: more fire trucks, more police, more citizens on patrol and more dignitaries.

"This is a very unifying event," said Janice Arcieri, co-founder of the Towson group and the current secretary of TACOP.

"This is a network of Citizens on Patrol organizations going out trying to stop crime," she said.

Tuesday's event began outside of the Toys 'R' Usstore in the Towson Place shopping center, where County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, County Police Chief Jim Johnson, State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger, County Councilman David Marks, State Delegate Bill Frank, Maryland Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services Gary Maynard,, and a representative from U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski's office joined the local Citizens on Patrol to send off the parade.

Kamenetz and Johnson lauded the county's recent success at crime prevention, noting how important groups like the neighborhood COPs are to the safety of the community.

"We couldn't do this without our community," Kamenetz said.

The procession of vehicles went through each of the 24 neighborhoods with COP groups Tuesday night, and was seen by thousands. Some of those who were stopped at intersections that were closed for the parade looked a tad annoyed, but throughout the small neighborhoods off Loch Raven Boulevard and York Road, residents came to their front steps to wave to the passing cars.

This year, TACOP decided that the night of crime prevention would also have a philanthropic side.

The group collected canned food for the Assistance Center of Towson Churches, and as the parade pulled out of the Towson Place parking lot, a pickup truck full of donations was heading the other way.

"That truck is loaded," Arcieri said.

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