LAST WEEK' S ISSUE: -- Responding to growing concerns about crime at light rail stops in northern Anne Arundel, County Executive John R. Leopold called on the state's transit administrator to place permanent patrols at three stations and bolster other security measures.
In a letter sent to Maryland Transit Administrator Paul J. Wiedefeld, Leopold said his administration has received several complaints from residents and riders of the light rail in Anne Arundel.
A month ago, a twice-convicted rapist was charged with raping a 22-year-old woman at the Nursery Road stop in Linthicum. Two weeks later, a taxi driver was robbed at gunpoint by a passenger she dropped off at the same station. The MTA is installing surveillance cameras at all North County stations.
Do you feel safe at the county's light rail stations? Are surveillance cameras and more police necessary?
Public safety is most important
It is a core government responsibility to provide for the safety of its citizenry. So, Leopold's request to the state for additional police protection at light rail stations is both appropriate and responsible.
Until 9/11, it never occurred to me to be afraid on public transportation. Now that BRAC, crumbling infrastructure and an increase in violent crimes are in the public consciousness, it is time for the local, state and federal public safety agencies to get serious about the costs and manpower needed to restore confidence in the government's ability to deliver services.
Surveillance cameras may be a deterrent but there is no substitute for boots on the ground as clearly demonstrated by the debacle in Iraq and the crime-ridden streets of Baltimore City.
Maryellen O. Brady Edgewater
More police and cameras needed
I have not felt secure and safe while using the light-rail system.
The Linthicum, North Linthicum and Nursery Road stations are isolated from the view of the general public, attracting crime such as rape and holdups. The presence of police and cameras would improve the safety of the riders of the light-rail system.
When it originally opened, there was no police protection provided for the new system. Crime increased tenfold in the Linthicum area.
When police were provided, crime decreased dramatically. I was president of the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association at the time.
Gerald Starr Linthicum
County needs MTA officers
Some years ago, when William Donald Schaefer was governor, the light rail was built. The citizens of Linthicum tried desperately to eliminate a stop in Linthicum to prevent crime from coming to our county via light rail.
The Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association was successful at least in preventing a parking lot at the Linthicum stop.
Now we see that we were justified, as crime has come to the Nursery Road stop via a rapist.
I fully support Leopold's call for the Maryland Transit Administration to place permanent patrols at three stations but would go further in asking that they be placed at all five North County stations.
Placing surveillance cameras at these locations is a good start but they can never replace boots on the platforms in preventing crime.
Jerry Todd Linthicum
We want your opinions
As critical teacher shortages persist, the Anne Arundel County school district has drafted a policy for hiring international teachers that includes offering to sponsor their permanent residency in the U.S.
Among other things, the policy states the district would help an applicant if they've had satisfactory job evaluations, and a clear disciplinary record with the district and agree to stay with the school system for at least two years once they've obtained citizenship. Anne Arundel is more likely to recruit and keep qualified foreign teachers who feel the school system is supporting their efforts to become citizens, said Florie Bozzella, the school system's director of human resources. Currently, the district has 60 foreign teachers placed in its schools.
Should county schools help foreign teachers obtain citizenship? Tell us what you think at email@example.com by Thursday. Please keep your responses short, and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be printed next Sunday.