Nearly one year after Sheriff Jesse Bane announced a summer initiative aimed at curbing violent crime in Edgewood, members of his agency again appeared before local residents Thursday night to detail new plans following a spate of recent violence in the Windsor Valley neighborhood.
Approximately 35 people attended the meeting of the Edgewood Community Council, including some two dozen Edgewood residents. Joining them were Bane, members of his command staff, State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly, and Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie.
Unlike last summer’s initiative, which saw broader sweeps of the Edgewood area, the Sheriff’s Office will use additional personnel along with crime data and tracking tools to target known criminals. According to Maj. Jack Meckley, newly promoted to oversee the agency’s police services bureau, the Sheriff’s Office has reallocated manpower from its northern precinct to the southern to assist in the effort.
“We’re taking a different approach, because the circumstances are different,” Bane said.
Bane said the strategy was in the planning stages long before a shooting death and a series of stabbings occurred in the Windsor Valley area last month; according to Bane, deputies began devising a plan last winter.
“We knew this was coming,” Bane said.
Meckley said a potential uptick in violence was probable after a long winter.
“Playing the percentages, we know that as the weather gets warmer, people get restless,” he told those present at the meeting. “We were already preparing that this might be a busy summer.”
However, crime in Edgewood has been on a downward trend for the first six months of the year, exceeding the decline already seen across the county, according to statistics presented by the Sheriff’s Office. While Part I, or more serious crimes, fell 12 percent countywide between Jan. 1 and June 30 compared to the same period last year, those same crimes in Edgewood fell by 15 percent, according to the agency’s internal record-keeping system. The full statistics are provided below.
The Sheriff’s Office presentation came on the heels of the June 25 shooting death of a 19-year-old man in the 400 block of Meadowood Drive, followed by a series of four non-fatal stabbings later that week.
Responding to a resident’s question, Sheriff’s Office Captain Jim Eyler said it does not appear that the murder and stabbings were connected.
“The short answer is no,” he said, declining to provide additional detail due to the ongoing nature of the respective investigations. He added that the surviving victims were providing “very little information” to detectives.
The Windsor Valley neighborhood may also benefit from a new ally in the form of a new landlord, the Wishrock Investment Group, which closed on the purchase of 283 units in the development on Monday. An owner of communities in several states across the country, director of operations Bryan Shumway said the company has several plans in the works to help “regrow” that community. In promotional materials, Wishrock said it “seeks to make Windsor Valley a model for future design process and resident engagement.”
Shumway also said the company will spend $13 million to refurbish nearly 300 units in the development, spending more than $40,000 in each.
“It’s not putting lipstick on a pig, these are major renovations, this is a significant investment,” he said.
The firm’s plans also include the installation of a surveillance system which offers video feeds accessible by Sheriff’s Office deputies directly from their cars and also monitored by a central station in Massachusetts. The cameras will have voice capability, allowing a person monitoring the feed to speak to via voice broadcast from the system.
One resident of the area questioned whether a curfew might help the situation. Guthrie said the idea had been discussed by the council, but would never see broad support as anything passed by the council would apply to the county at large, not just Edgewood.
“At best I might get one vote,” he said. “The rest of the council is not going to support it.”
However, he said that the various neighborhoods and developments could potentially enact local rules that include a curfew. Shumway said his company would publicize and enforce a set of “house rules” that include a curfew.
“A curfew is common sense and something we will be enforcing,” he said.
Guthrie added that he had a personal stake in ensuring the safety of Windsor Valley residents.
“It’s something near and dear to my heart, because my daughter and grandson live in Candlewood Court,” he said.