De­bate con­tin­ues on alternative polic­ing

Some still in fa­vor of re­cruit­ing mo­tor­cy­cle clubs to pa­trol prob­lem ar­eas

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By MIA MCCASLIN mm­c­caslin@ches­pub.com

Cliff O’Con­nell, owner of Cliff’s Hi-Tech, pro­posed on his Face­book page last month that the com­mu­nity might want to seek the help of mo­tor­cy­cle clubs to keep riff-raff who may sell drugs away.

The post read: “Just a thought. Won­der if some of the mo­tor­cy­cle clubs would want to help with th­ese thugs try­ing to con­trol the cor­ners in our com­mu­ni­ties. I’m sure the res­i­dents would love it and do­nate to the club. [...] I would be glad to meet with any of them and dis­cuss this.I also will be the first to do­nate. Please pri­vate mes­sage me or call [me] Mon­day thru Fri­day.”

O’Con­nell’s words have since been met with a myr­iad of re­sponses from both in sup­port of his idea and those who are ap­palled by this very propo­si­tion.

Coun­cil­man Todd Cran­dell (7th District) is one of those in strong op­po­si­tion to this ver­i­ta­ble vig­i­lan­tism. Af­ter O’Con­nell posted the above Face­book mes­sage, Cran­dell re­leased a video in re­sponse.

In the video, Cran­dell as­serted that he could not, in any way, sup­port mo­tor­cy­cle clubs con­duct­ing po­lice ac­tiv­ity. He stated, “it’s sim­ply a bad idea. Hav­ing un­trained, un­vet­ted, and un­li­censed peo­ple con­duct­ing law en­force­ment ac­tiv­i­ties in our neigh­bor­hoods sim­ply will not work. The risks are too great.”

Cran­dell, while dismissing the idea as a dan­ger to the com­mu­nity with a pos­si­bil­ity of “the break­down of law and or­der,” also stated in his video re­sponse that he un­der­stood that this idea is a “symp­tom of des­per­a­tion.”

“I have not, and I will not, sit idly by,” said Cran­dell, be­fore ex­plain­ing what he was pre­pared to do to be­gin to fix the sit­u­a­tion that led com­mu­nity mem­bers to be so des­per­ate for re­lief that they are turn­ing to lo­cal bike clubs to main­tain or­der on their streets.

Cran­dell plans to re­new his re­quest to Bal­ti­more County State’s At­tor­ney Scott Shel­len­berger to en­force ex­ist­ing state law al­low­ing land­lords to evict any­one con­victed of deal­ing drugs.

He is also re­port­edly in talks with the Bal­ti­more County Po­lice Chief Ter­rence Sheri­dan to ad­vo­cate for more uni­formed of­fi­cers and nar­cotics of­fi­cers in Dun­dalk and Es­sex.

Ac­cord­ing to Cran­dell, th­ese two precincts have the largest vol­ume of calls. “The need is great,” Cran­dell said. “We need more help.”

The coun­cil­man ended his video ad­dress by re­mind­ing the com­mu­nity that progress has been made, de­spite how glar­ing th­ese is­sues at the fore­front seem to be. Af­ter this, Cran­dell im­plores that the peo­ple of the district must not make rash de­ci­sions to put those things at risk.

“We will not now or ever con­done or per­mit the be­hav­iors that have de­stroyed Bal­ti­more City,” Cran­dell in­sisted. “The only way that we can ac­com­plish get­ting our voices heard in Tow­son is through that rea­soned ad­vo­cacy that I spoke of ear­lier. We need to op­er­ate within the bound­aries of law and or­der and I hope you can join me in this ef­fort.”

The video had since been re­moved from both the Coun­cil­man’s web­site and Face­book as of ear­lier this week.

“Todd Cran­dell has said that he doesn’t sup­port the idea, which I un­der­stand. I like the guy and I sup- port him; we just hap­pen to not agree on this one,” O’Con­nell said in an in­ter­view last week.

In this same in­ter­view, O’Con­nell said he does not want mo­tor­cy­cle clubs con­duct­ing po­lice ac­tiv­ity, he only wants them to “show their pres­ence” on cer­tain street cor­ners where crime might be more likely. “Not the Hell’s An­gels, more like the Guardian An­gels,” he said.

“The res­i­dents loved it. They were of­fer­ing to cook food for the bik­ers or to let them use the bath­rooms in their homes and even of­fer­ing to do­nate money to their clubs,” O’Con­nell said. “Crime isn’t get­ting any bet­ter and we don’t have enough po­lice of­fi­cers or de­tec­tives to stop the mag­ni­tude of crimes, and COP can’t do this, it puts res­i­dents in dan­ger. They’re afraid to call the cops.”

Cit­i­zens on Pa­trol, or COP, is a group of com­mu­nity vol­un­teers who ride around their neigh­bor­hoods to work as sur­veil­lance and call the po­lice if they see any­thing sketchy.

“COP worked back in the day when it was just kids do­ing mean things to each other, but now they’re drug deal­ers and peo­ple are afraid,” O’Con­nell ex­plained.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CRE­ATIVE COM­MONS

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