As Baltimore County implements additional measures to subdue violent crime in Towson’s business district, many Towson University students say they’re still wary of the area.
The area about a half-mile north of campus, known to students and residents as “Uptown,” is home to the Towson mall as well as small businesses, restaurants and government agencies.
Since Jan. 30, the Uptown area saw three shootings, one first-degree assault, and three sexual assaults.
In response to the killing of a 17-year-old in Uptown and other recent incidents, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and other local leaders held a public safety walk on Feb. 22 where they announced new measures.
“We’re going to step up and do even more until folks both are safe and feel safe,” Olszewski said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes.”
He said the county would increase the number of cameras and patrol officers in the area and install license plate readers.
The new measures took effect in early March, according to Joy Stewart, spokesperson for the Baltimore County Police Department.
Towson students have not received a crime-related emergency alert since Feb. 12, after receiving four alerts in the first two weeks of the spring semester.
Editor’s note: Hours after Baltimore Fishbowl published this article, the Towson University Police Department issued an alert around 3 a.m. March 17 about an armed carjacking on campus. No injuries were reported, according to The Towerlight, Towson’s student-run newspaper.
Overall, many students support the measures to reduce crime in Towson, although the efforts have been met with some skepticism.
Sydnee Hart and Eric Ryva, both juniors, said the crime lately is alarming. Hart said she will have to see the results that come from the license plate readers and additional patrol officers and cameras before she feels safer in Uptown.
“It sounds like they’re doing something about it,” Hart said. “That sounds good in retrospect, but I guess it’s more so like ‘I have to see it to believe it’ type of thing because there’s always new policies or systems that are being implemented, but then we still see crime here.”
Sophomore Sydney Shrager said she isn’t sure about the effectiveness of the license plate readers because some of the crimes were committed by people on foot.
Since the public safety walk, police have not reported any shootings or assaults in Uptown.
Many Towson students are still willing to venture into the area, but they are taking more precautions.
Sophomore Megan Sparhawk said she feels safer walking to Uptown with a large group of friends. She also carries pepper spray, which she has been doing since before the recent incidents.
Freshman Connor Puls said there’s a difference of safety in Uptown during the day and at night.
“I feel like when it is darker out, there’s a higher chance for something suspicious to happen,” Puls said. “I definitely think about it more when it’s nighttime than if I were to just walk to Uptown during the day to get lunch.”
Senior Jake Brannon, who lives off-campus, said he doesn’t want to be in Uptown after dark.
“When it gets to a certain time of the day when the sun starts setting, I try to get out of there as quickly as I can,” he said. “I don’t like to spend more time than I need to up there.”
Jordan Colquitt, president of Towson’s Student Government Association, said he doesn’t think of the crime in Uptown as being a problem with the university.
“I wouldn’t really associate it as a Towson University issue, but how our students feel is important, so I’m glad that [the university is] partnering on those efforts,” Colquitt said.
Last year, the university funded a grant to the Baltimore County Police Department to improve public safety in Towson.
The university provides other safety resources for its students, Colquitt said, including the blue emergency light poles, SafeWalk, and SafeRide.
If students press one of the emergency lights around campus, it will automatically connect them with the Towson University Police Department.
Students can also use SafeRide to have a shuttle pick them up from a location on campus or at the University Village apartments between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m., or SafeWalk to have a TUPD officer walk with them any time of day.
Many students said that they feel safer on campus than in Uptown.
“I don’t feel threatened on campus, ever,” said Sparhawk, who travels with a group when she goes to Uptown. “We just try to stay together. But we’ve definitely gone [to Uptown] less since recent things.”
I don’t think you should only be writing abt the Towson Uni students. What about the locals because over the summer the crime isn’t as bad, most of the crime is coming FROM those students. Write abt that, write abt how they are trashing the streets, or how they are taking away businesses from the locals, write abt how they they destroying the rep of Towson.
It’s sad that Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and other local leaders have disowned Dundalk and other county neighborhoods yet as soon as Towson see violence they are to the rescue. Clearly see favoritism here. Oh and I bet there’s no trash laying around Towson either.
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