Oakland Mills village officials and Howard County police held the inaugural meeting last night of an anti-crime work group they hope will address issues such as drug use and destruction of property.
About 10 residents showed up for the two-hour meeting at The Other Barn, sponsored by the village board and attended by Capt. Mike Kessler, the Southern District commander; Sgt. David J. Trapani, an area supervisor; and Lt. Sandra Regler, the village's police liaison.
Participants identified 20 security issues in the village, including trespassing, burglaries and bicycle path safety.
At future meetings, they will focus on drug use, loitering, fear or perception of crime, communication and community education.
Regler, who has worked closely with a similar task force on crime in Harper's Choice, said the community's partnership with police is "like a living document. It just keeps moving and becoming what we need it to become."
Despite a shooting near the Oakland Mills Village Center in November and a string of armed robberies or attempted armed robberies in recent months, Kessler assured the group members that they live in a safe community and that the perception of crime is worse than the reality.
"This is one of the safest places in Maryland," Kessler said. "But that fear is there."
Earl Jones, vice chairman of the village board, expressed disappointment that more residents did not attend the meeting.
He said business and religious leaders, Columbia Association officials and other community "pillars" should also become involved.
Shortly after the November shooting, about 50 residents attended a crime forum sponsored by police.
The next meeting of the work group will be 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at The Other Barn.
Pub Date: 1/21/99