Saturday, November 19, 2011

Police substation at Arundel Mills

n response to the latest homicides at Arundel Mills road, the Capital recently ran a front page article about the future of a police substation at the mall. A few years back, the county pledged to double the number of police officers patrolling that location. Currently, the police assign two officers per shift to patrol the property. In addition, another officer drives around and answers calls along Arundel Mills Rd corridor. With this presence, one questions the need for additional officers, let alone a separate building.

Shortly after the incident, the police confirmed that the murderer likely knew his victims. In other words, it’s not as if two unlikely people got gunned down in a random attack. Admittedly, Arundel Mills does experience a disproportionate number of armed robberies. After all, very few people enter a mall without at least some cash. In turn, the mall’s large square footage and multiple parking lots allow criminals to conspicuously drive around and hone in on a target.

Using a cost-benefit analysis approach, one must first examine if four officers can provide more efficiency than two. On the surface, the answer appears rather simple. Still, when taking into account that these officers will get spread across 1,300,000 square feet, it doesn’t significantly lessen the risk to patrons.

Of course, if the police get a substation, the crooks will simple avoid that area of the mall. Meanwhile, the officers will likely start hanging out in that location as opposed to a designed spot within the mall itself. Eventually, that will affect their overall visibility, which contradicts the main reason for increasing their presence.

Now, some will argue that policy forbids police officers from sitting idly inside a station house. Well, why then should the taxpayers foot the bill for a structure that will routinely remain empty? If it’s solely about giving the police a place to process arrestees, then I question the fiscal sanity of that idea as well. Keep in mind, the Western District Police barracks sit less than a 10 minute drive from Arundel Mills.

In these economic times, the county must prioritize capital projects. No doubt, a police substation at Arundel Mills ranks rather low compared to other necessities.

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