- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Beefed-up patrols in residential areas near the University of Maryland campus "absolutely" made a difference during the first weekend they were in effect, university police said yesterday.
University police have added two officers to the night shifts Wednesday through Saturday while school is in session, increasing the number of officers on patrol to an average of seven. This is the first concrete action taken to curb the growing problem of violence that culminated two weeks ago with the stabbing death of a university student about three blocks from the College Park campus.
Maj. Cathy Atwell said there were no major incidents during the weekend and that the additional two officers unmistakably made a difference.
"The evidence that I have is how people have responded to added patrols," Maj. Atwell said. "By and large the community has been very positive about having additional officers."
The added patrols will concentrate on the Route 1 corridor and in the Old Town section, a residential neighborhood heavily populated by students. Prince George's County police have primary jurisdiction of this area, but university police have been given concurrent jurisdiction of much of it because they are often able to respond more quickly.
Brandon James Malstrom, 20, a university sophomore, died after being stabbed Nov. 10 outside a party on Dickinson Avenue. Two men, Quan L. Davis, 23, and John R. Schlamp, 24, have been charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing. Neither man has any connection to the university.
The number of robberies, aggravated assaults and auto thefts are up on campus and off, and many students said in two public safety forums last week that they fear for their safety late at night while walking in the Old Town area.
Since Mr. Malstrom's killing, students and residents at the forums called for a heavier and more visible police presence. A task force was formed to assess the best way to increase public safety, and it will issue a report Jan. 1.
Until then, university police will have two extra officers out on weekends. Those officers will receive overtime pay from the university,.
"We are doing this to increase our visibility, to act as a deterrent to outsiders and to target the types of incidents that have plagued the downtown area," said University of Maryland Police Capt. Jim Hamrick.
"This is an immediate step we're taking to deal with the activities along the Route 1 corridor, and the task force will look at some more permanent solutions," Maj. Atwell said.
Last week's forums highlighted a conflict between longtime College Park residents, who said they prefer peace and quiet, and students, who often throw parties that residents say are loud. The parties also have drawn outsiders who sometimes have criminal intent, police say.
"The residents want more police presence, [and] we're going to give them more police presence," said Officer Jeff Bunge, who was part of the extra patrol Friday night.
"The students want more police presence, but only when they're in trouble. When they're in trouble, it's often because they've been drinking, and they don't want to get caught for underage drinking. It's a vicious cycle," he said.
"It's going to be very difficult to please everyone."
While patrolling the Old Town neighborhood, Officer Bunge drove by a private home on Knox Road where a line of young people snaked out the front door and several people holding drinks stood outside.
"I'm just sitting here where there's a party, making them feel safe," said Officer Bunge, who parked across the street and let his squad car idle. "Amazingly, they're all going inside."
Within minutes of his arrival, the front yard was empty.
"We can't prevent all crimes, because people can still come into this area and commit [crimes]. It's going to happen," Officer Bunge said.


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