A string of daytime burglaries along Old Middleborough Road, a driveway paving scam targeting seniors and fear of a suspected drug dealer in Hawthorne—these were just a few of the topics discussed at Tuesday’s Essex Precinct Police Community Relations Council meeting.
While these issues impact thousands of Essex-Middle River residents, only about a dozen people attended the meeting, something Officer Natalie Bakhsh hopes to change in the future.
Bakhsh said developing a forum like the Police Community Relations Council, which meets on the second Tuesday of the month at the Stembridge Community Center, is key to improving communication between the police and local residents. During the latest meeting, she listened to residents' concerns, took notes and agreed to look into issues brought up by residents.
“We have an open dialogue and it allows residents to let us know what is going on in their community because we can’t be everywhere all the time,” she said. “One way we can continue to reduce crime is by having residents assist us in being the eyes and ears of the communities.”
PCRC president Dennis Gilpin agreed. The Aero Acres resident has worked to get more community involvement in the organization, which was relaunched in March in the Essex precinct.
“Coming together as a community lets us know what crime is happening in our neighborhoods,” Gilpin said. “It also allows neighborhoods to see what others did to solve problems in their community and how those strategies might be used elsewhere.”
Along with updating residents on crime trends, Gilpin and Bakhsh also use the meetings to educate residents about the inner workings of the police department.
This month’s meeting was no exception, as Detective William Ryan of the Baltimore County Police Department's Violent Crimes Unit was the guest speaker. He offered an overview of his unit and said that his unit closes 85 percent of its cases.
“Violent crimes in Baltimore County are at historic lows,” Ryan said. “While there are incidents of violence against innocent people, most violence occurs between two criminals where it’s really hard to tell who the victim is in a case.”
Chuck Munzert of the Hawthorne Community Association said the PCRC is a resource to communities and hopes more residents will attend the monthly meetings.
“I want to see neighborhoods working together to solve crime problems,” Munzert said. “We all have to work together to make a difference. If we all come together, we have nothing to be afraid of any more from criminals.”