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New Windsor's Hoodlums


Something is not right when juveniles can vandalize a town for hours and nothing is done to stop them. Early on June 11, a band of kids rampaged through New Windsor, spray-painting cars, street signs and lampposts; breaking a window at a nearly completed middle school, and damaging bleachers and a portable toilet at the town park. When they were done, they had destroyed several thousand dollars' worth of property.

Even though New Windsor, Carroll County's smallest incorporated municipality, appears to be the quintessential close-knit community, a small band of juveniles has systematically helped to ruin the town's civic life. They destroyed the Town Youth Partnership Experiment, an effort to provide New Windsor's teens with activities and recreation opportunities, when they vandalized the Brethren Center's gymnasium. They are responsible for continuing acts of petty vandalism. The latest is the worst incident by far -- and the most worrisome.

At present, it is not clear what happened two weekends ago. Police sent some kids home after a fight broke out at a fire company carnival. Apparently, these kids did not go home. Even though the town has a 11 p.m. curfew on weekends for teen-agers, none of the juveniles was cited for the obvious violation. If calls were made to the police, apparently no troopers were dispatched to deal with the unruly juveniles. That is not acceptable.

Unlike other towns that have their own police officers, New Windsor relies on a part-time resident trooper and the state police to maintain peace and order. If it turns out that state police failed to respond, the townspeople of New Windsor deserve a promise that there won't be a recurrence.

A number of New Windsor residents say they are afraid of retaliation if they report incidents to the police. It is unacceptable have the town's lawless minority intimidating the town's law-abiding residents.

There may be too much leniency in the juvenile justice system, but adults who use that excuse not to report incidents are just encouraging these youths to engage in even more outrageous behavior. The parents of these children are not setting limits and correcting their anti-social behavior; it is left to the rest of the community -- residents and police -- to fill the void.

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