Community policing may be a 1990s catch-phrase in the law enforcement world, but the concept is 30 years old in Anne Arundel County.
The Police Community Relations Council "was the start of community-oriented policing as we know it today -- the police and community working together to solve problems," Police Chief Robert A. Beck said at a 30-year celebration event Wednesday night.
District captains and patrol officers dressed in neatly pressed blue and white uniforms were among the 60 people who attended the gathering at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in Crownsville.
The officers showed their appreciation for the community group that has helped buy equipment for police and provided a forum for neighbors to discuss crime problems with police.
The group was formed to deal with "public apathy with respect to law enforcement," according to a council recruitment letter.
Robert B. Muchow, then president of the Glen Burnie Jaycees, received enthusiastic support for the group from several of the 200 community leaders and organizations he solicited.
A roster for the group's first steering committee reads like a who's who in the county: Marvin Anderson, then the state's attorney; Elmer Hagner, then the police chief; Andrew G. Truxal, then president of Anne Arundel Community College; and William Padfield, then unofficial mayor of Glen Burnie and president of the town's improvement association.
All helped form the group.
Its first meeting was Feb. 7, 1966.
The group soon formed three subcommittees to work with the Northern, Southern and Eastern police districts.
The Western District was added several years later.
Today, the four councils meet each month to talk with police and learn ways to prevent crime.
"A lot of people have problems in their communities that don't get brought to the police's attention through any other mechanism but ours," said Jerry Nowlin, president of the Western District council.
This week, officers set up radar traps and did truck inspections along Waugh Chapel Road in Gambrills.
Four Seasons community members had complained at a recent meeting about large trucks speeding through their neighborhood.
Several times a year, the councils invite speakers to conduct crime-prevention seminars.
The groups also name an officer of the year and often are instrumental in buying computers, surveillance cameras, hand-held camcorders and other equipment for the police districts.
Wednesday, officers said the groups give them more than just equipment and complaints on crime.
The councils show officers a better side of the public, they said.
"It's important that we don't get in the mind set that everyone's out to get us and that everyone hates us," said Sgt. Jason Little, who regularly attends council board meetings.
Sergeant Little said going to the meetings "reminds you that there are people out there who really respect the police."
"There are a lot of people who are out there to help you do your job," he said.