Citizen patrol responds to recent crime
Towson alum David Anderson is the recently-named leader of the revitalized Downtown Towson Citizens on Patrol (COP) group.
The group was restarted in November as a response to a spike in criminal activity and will mainly patrol the business district of downtown Towson.
“We want to deter crime before it happens by letting people know we’re out there,” he said.
Anderson said that he volunteered to lead the group to use his marketing skills to increase the size of the group, and help it grow.
“Not to mention that I like this town and want to see it remain as safe as possible,” he said.
The Downtown Towson group will not patrol the Towson University campus, because the TUPD already provide a security presence.
However, according to Pat France, vice president of the Towson Area Citizens on Patrol, this does not mean that students cannot get involved with COP.
“Students are also citizens. And as a citizen, they can volunteer to serve their community,” she said. “Surely that would be a mature, responsible decision.”
France said that students are typically downtown at times that other residents are not, such as late at night.
“And that’s really the best time to be patrolling,” she said.
The Towson area has several Citizen on Patrol groups, each one for different neighborhoods. Paul Hartman, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations (GTCCA), called COP groups “a valuable service.”
“I think [they] make the community a safer place,” he said.
Hartman said that the GTCCA has no direct affiliation with the Towson Area Citizens on Patrol, but the GTCCA does encourage its members to participate in COP groups in their own neighborhoods.
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, among other communities, said that COP groups “are absolutely essential.”
Marks also said that he would be happy with volunteers regularly patrolling the commercial core of downtown Towson.
The Baltimore County government provides grants to citizen on patrol volunteers.
According to Marks, these grants include money for car magnets and signs that go up in the community to raise visibility and create awareness of the patrols.
According to Anderson, new members attend a training meeting that is hosted by the Baltimore County Police Department.
“I think it is important to note that our motto is ‘see something, say something.’ We do not take any action aside from calling 911 if we see something suspicious,” he said. “The George Zimmerman case put a bad light on a good program and we want to be sure people don’t think we’re in the same mindset as he was.”