LIVE BLOG: Balog Talks Perry Hall Crime, Prevention Efforts
Capt. Michael Balog of the White Marsh police precinct presented information about community crime issues.
UPDATE (8:30 p.m.)—The Perry Hall Improvement Association's November meeting Thursday night featured a presentation and question-and-answer session with Capt. Michael Balog of the White Marsh police precinct.
The following updates were recorded live during the meeting.
7:30 p.m. Rev. Elmer Klein delivered a Veterans Day prayer.
7:35 p.m. Dennis M. Robinson, Jr., PHIA president, introduced Balog. He emphasized that Perry Hall remains a safe community. "We don't do this to scare people or make people think it's not safe to go outside ... we do this to find out how we can work with police to prevent and solve crimes," Robinson said.
7:38 p.m. Balog said that several police initiatives in Perry Hall are showing results. Traffic stops are up 12 to 13 percent over the past few years, since a traffic initiative was moved from the Rosedale area to the Perry Hall area, between Honeygo Boulevard and Route 43. He added that pedestrian accidents have been a minor problem in the area, although most of the time, across the county, are the pedestrians' fault.
7:42 p.m. Balog recapped details from Perry Hall's string of three armed robberies and the three arrests that followed.
7:43 p.m. An attendee asked a question about the recent BGE burglary and man who was arrested for it. Balog said that copper theft from the BGE facility in Perry Hall was nothing new. He said the police work regularly with metal recycyling businesses and pawn shops to track those metal theft suspects.
7:46 p.m. Balog encouraged residents to understand that police may not be available to conduct as many traffic stops in neighborhoods during the holiday season, when more police are needed to patrol shopping centers. "When you want an officer in your neighborhood doing traffic stops, that could be taking them away from arresting bad guys around shopping centers, especially in the holiday season," he said.
7:47 p.m. Balog said theft from unlocked vehicles was an ongoing problem. "Women, don't leave your purse in the car ... Lock your cars. Most of the theft from autos have been from unlocked car doors," he said.
7:48 p.m. An attendee asked about the types of people who have been accused of burglaries. Balog said no particular race or origin can be profiled. Some criminals are homegrown. "People are coming from anywhere, going anywhere. ... Although the majority are repeat offenders. ... Many are not homeless, but some are hooked on drugs," Balog said.
7:50 p.m. Balog said he has received recent complaints about traffic congestion before and after school near Joppa View Elementary along Honeygo Boulevard. "People have requested enforcement [in that area]. If you think traffic is bad now, just wait until I send an officer down there," Balog said, adding that additional police in the area at those times may actually increase congestion.
7:52 p.m. Balog said he has recently been dealing with some issues at Perry Hall High School. "We're adding additional enforcement to keep kids from loitering in surrounding neighborhoods," Balog said. He also commented on last week's Bernie dance protest about the cancelation of the remainder of the boys soccer season. "With Bernie dance protests, they were the most peaceful protestors I've ever seen. ... We told them to go to class and they went to class. We weren't there to scare them. We were there to keep them from getting hit by cars," Balog said.
7:55 p.m. Balog announced that Baltimore County police has unrolled an online reporting system for minor theft incidents, minor burglaries and property crime involving losses under $15,000.
7:55 p.m. An attendee asked if there was a non-emergency number to use to report crimes. Balog said that residents should call 911 or the White Marsh police precinct at 410-887-5000.
7:55 p.m. An attendee asked how to remain anonymous when reporting an abandoned vehicle. Balog said reporting citizens can simply say, "I wish to remain anonymous."
7:58 p.m. An attendee complained about traffic near Surf City on Friday and Saturday nights, causing people to park on Kahlston Road.
7:59 p.m. An attendee asked Balog how often he communicates with the Parkville precinct about Perry Hall. Balog said information is shared frequently between the two precincts. "Most often, we're on the same radio channel," Balog said.
8 p.m. An attendee asked, "Is there any way to include all of Perry Hall in a single precinct?" Balog said there was a plan to include all of Perry Hall in a single precinct some years ago, but where to draw a line around Perry Hall is an ongoing issue. Balog said there was no more talk about that including Perry Hall under a single precinct.
8:02 p.m. State Sen. Kathy Klausmeier asked if there was an officer at the precinct to focus on Perry Hall business issues. Balog said there are countywide officers dedicated to this. "We have a business burglary survey we do as well. ... There's no way an officer can get out to every house or business, but at community meetings like this, we can reach more people." Balog said he would put together a survey to get more information from citizens and businesses. "It's better to do something than nothing. There's probably going to be more of that kind of stuff coming out," he said.
8:05 p.m. Balog encouraged attendees to talk to their homeowners associations about setting up meetings with police community outreach officers.
8:07 p.m. An attendee asked, "Do we have a problem around here with people posing as police officers?" Balog responded, "Yesterday, I would have said 'no.' But there was a person arrested for this just the other day. A media release will be sent out soon."
8:09 p.m. An attendee asked, "What can be done about Beaconsfield and Honeygo Boulevard signal outages? It was like fend for yourself through that intersection. The precinct is like a half mile down the street." Balog said, "We'll get our commanders on that," patrolling areas where there are traffic signal outages.
8:13 p.m. An attendee asked, "Have you had complaints about people getting out of cars and checking other door handles to see if they are open." Balog responded that it is an ongoing problem. "If you see anything suspicious like that, call 911," he said.
8:14 p.m. Balog encouraged residents not to leave their cars running to warm them up. "Don't do it. Are we going to enforce that? I don't know," he said.
8:15 p.m. An attendee asked, "How come they didn't put a turn signal at Beaconsfield?" Balog said, "I can't speak for traffic engineers."
8:16 p.m. An attendee asked if there were any reports of looting after the recent condo fire. Balog said there were no reports of that. The attendee then asked what caused the fire? Someone else said they believed it was caused by a ceiling fan.
8:17 p.m. An attendee complained about door to door salesman and asked if there was an increase in crime. Balog said, "No matter the numbers, if you were burglarized, crime is up 100 percent. I don't want to diminish anyone's crime concerns. I asked the crime analysis section if it was up in Perry Hall. They said it went up a little since last year, especially with the recent burglaries. ... Call us if you see anything suspicious."
8:22 p.m. Baltimore County firefighter Lt. Jack Amhrein "Do not tell everyone where you're going on Facebook and after you went shopping," as it may be a tip-off to burglars.
8:24 p.m. An attendee asked, "What about the bank robberies with the night drops in Perry Hall?" Balog said, "That's part of our business patrols. I'm not sure if we got all of them. We asked businesses to put more security in place." He said he would look into updating his information.
8:25 p.m. "Graffiti, whose responsibility is it to remove graffiti?" an attendee asked. Balog said that some people were recently arrested for graffiti. "We're looking into if their drawings match," he said.
8:27 p.m. Klausmeier thanked Balog, saying she would like to pursue more police outreach to businesses. "Don't forget to hug a veteran tomorrow," she said.
8:28 p.m. County Councilman David Marks thanked Balog and the PHIA for communicating with the public during the recent robberies. Marks set up a community advisory committees with leaders in District 5 and said he is working to promote citizens on patrol programs in Perry Hall.
8:29 p.m. The next PHIA meeting will be on the second Thursday in January, when the president of Franklin Square Hospital Center will speak.
Check back at 7:30 p.m. for the start of our meeting live blog.
What are Perry Hall's biggest crime issues? Tell us in the comments.