UPDATE (Nov. 15)—For more than an hour Tuesday night, three members of the Anne Arundel Police Department, along with elected officials, fielded questions and tough criticism from members of the Green Haven community in Pasadena who said criminal activity has been brewing for several years.
Most recently, a double shooting on Oct. 13 left a local man, Matthew Morrow, dead just a few blocks from George Fox Middle School, where the meeting was held.
The day after the incident, police released information that Ronald Lee McLeod of Columbia and Daniel Alex Savage of Glen Burnie—both 18—were both charged with first- and second-degree murder; attempted first- and second-degree murder; first-degree assault and second-degree assault. Police said McLeod also faces multiple handgun-related charges and reckless endangerment.
However, charges against Savage were dropped.
Police said they could not discuss details of the ongoing investigation, but insisted that more information from the community would only be better for the welfare of residents. The officers said they can only respond to incidents they are called to or come across themselves, so phone calls will lead to more patrols.
"Call if you see a particular individual doing something wrong," said Sgt. Tom Newman, of the eastern district for Anne Arundel County police. "The more you get them into the court system, eventually the courts are going to do something about it."
Darren Costa, the second victim of the shooting, sat in the rear of the meeting with a bandage over the gunshot wound on his right arm.
"You guys are saying to call 9-1-1 for help from the police, but I just want to know why it took 25 to 30 minutes for an ambulance to get there and actually get my friend (Morrow) out of the street," Costa said. "They walked over to him while he was still there and they just took their time while my friend was dying."
Chief Michael Cox, a spokesperson for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, said response units received a call at 1:28 a.m. on the night of the shooting and were on the scene eight minutes later. Units were transporting the victims away from the scene 12 minutes after arriving, according to Cox.
"If you would have done your job, they wouldn't have been out in the street," said one woman.
The officers said they can only arrest and charge suspects that they catch, and that the sentencing of the perpetrators can only be carried out by the courts.
Morrow's family showed up hoping to get some answers as to what will be done about the criminal activity.
Ed Morrow, Matthew's father, was not satisfied with the police insisting that the court system is causing criminals to stay on the streets.
"It seems like you guys feel like you're doing your job, and that's fine," Ed told police. "But now what do we do? Because what you're doing is not working."
Neighbors of the Morrow family repeatedly questioned the police department's ability to adequately track the crimes and perpetrators in order to bring them to justice.
One man narrowed the trouble spots to two particular residences on Outing Avenue and 14th Street, asking, "How do we stop the partying?"
"How do we stop the drug dealing?" asked a woman.
Chatter about the department's competence grew so loud at one point that officer Ian Preece barked at the group to stop speaking over one another.
"We will not stop investigating this case until we get a verdict," said Sgt. Keith Clark, of the county's homicide unit.
Police insisted that the department is doing the best they can for the area with the number of resources and intelligence they have. The officers said the first thing residents can do to further protect themselves is to start regularly calling police to report suspicious activity.
"Everyone knows what belongs and what doesn't belong here. You know what a suspicious person looks like," Sgt. Newman said.
Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, who spoke toward the end of the meeting, said he, too, wishes there was a greater police presence in Green Haven, but that he wishes the same for all neighborhoods in the county.
"I wish we had the resources to do everything we need to do to help our police officers and increase the number of police officers," Leopold said, citing the Anne Arundel County School Board budget as a reason for limited police funding.
"The school board is squeezing the oxygen out of all of the other departments of county government," Leopold said.
But he also looked at the newly-opened Maryland Live! casino at Arundel Mills in Hanover as an opportunity to pad the department's budget. Leopold said he expects the county will get $15 million of new revenue, which would ultimately increase all department budgets.
State Delegate Nic Kipke (R-Pasadena) told the crowd that he is connected to the community's concerns about crime, thanks to a handful of residents who constantly call him and local authorities, but that more people need to start calling police and state legislators.
"This is unacceptable what's going on in your neighborhood," Kipke said. "But every time I meet with police, they tell me, 'We only hear from these five people.'"
He insisted that police are doing what they're supposed to do, but are being undermined by members of the court system who are letting criminals off the hook and back into the communities.
"We have a court system that has liberal judges who turn these people right on the back, and they're often coddling them," Kipke said. "We have a legislature in Maryland that coddles criminals."
He used the opportunity to suggest residents take the Nov. 6 general election as a chance to vote out the "liberal" circuit court judges, in favor of "conservative" judges, whom he says will be hardline on crime.
"If you want to get these thugs under control—and you don't want it to take eight years—you have to get more involved," Kipke said. "You can't just sit back and blame [the police], who put their lives on the line constantly."
Editor's note: This story was updated to include the response times officially recorded by the Anne Arundel County Fire Department and to reflect information reported on Nov. 15 that charges were dropped against Daniel Alex Savage.
If you have any information about this incident, please contact eastern district detectives at 410-222-6145. Or you may contact Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7LOCKUP or text “MCS" plus your message to CRIMES (274637). Phone calls are not recorded and callers remain anonymous.