Because of an increase in robberies, Towson once again will have a foot patrolman policing its streets after a five-year lapse. But this time, the officer will be bicycling as well as walking around the heart of town.
The lone policeman, Officer Carl Lindhorst Jr., will oversee an area that generally covers Washington Avenue east to Delaware Avenue, including York Road, and Allegheny Avenue south to Burke Avenue.
But as often as possible, Officer Lindhorst will be joined by other bicycle-police officers, said Maj. Johnny C. Whitehead, commander of the Towson Precinct. Ten of his patrol officers who normally work in cars are trained for bicycle work.
Major Whitehead said a growing number of robberies and the continuing presence of loitering youths in the area were the impetus for the renewed patrol, which will start July 1.
He noted that 15 robberies were reported in the central business area in the first quarter of 1995, compared with yearly figures of 26 in 1994, 21 in 1993 and 13 in 1992. Also, at times, the number of teens gathering in Towson on weekends has ranged from 25 to the hundreds, causing complaints of vandalism and littering.
"We recognized the need to address actual problems and perceptions of problems," Major Whitehead said.
He said Officer Lindhorst, who will have varying hours in the beginning, also will work with Towson merchants to establish a Business Watch, a crime prevention service which offers information and training to businesses and employees to reduce opportunities for crime.
And as part of the precinct's community outreach unit, Officer Lindhorst will serve as a police liaison to the Towson Business Association (TBA), an organization of more than 200 area businesses.
TBA has been lobbying for the foot patrol for quite a while, said Susan DiLonardo, its executive director. "We're just thrilled," she said. "It will be helpful to have a uniform presence that adds a level of security to those who work and shop here."