When Tim Altomare introduces himself to strangers, he doesn’t tell them he’s the new commander of the county police’s northern district.
“I tell them I’m a cop because that’s what I am,” said Altomare, who was promoted to his position Aug. 30 and succeeds Maj. William Krampf, now the head of the Patrol Services Bureau.
Altomare worked closely with Krampf during the year and a half he was captain. He said the public and his officers, about 115, should not see any change—other than the name of the person in charge because the two share similar philosophies to policing. But more than that, the district’s success is due to the officers’ dedication, he said.
“Nothing is going to change with me taking the helm here. These cops are super men and women. The folks out there should know what we have here,” Altomare said.
That district is a broad swath of north county. Besides Brooklyn Park, where the police station is located at 939 Hammonds Ln., the northern district encompasses Linthicum, Ferndale, Freetown and a large portion of Glen Burnie.
And even within a community, the needs could be different from one neighborhood to the next. Brooklyn Park, for example, has everything from thefts from sheds and vehicles in Roland Terrace and Olde Brooklyn Park, to drug deals in Belle Grove and Arundel Village.
Responding to those needs is a juggling act, but the key to success is treating people with the Golden Rule, Altomare said.
“You have to dance fast and keep dancing,” he said, laughing. “Policing isn’t rocket science, if you treat people like they want to be treated. And these guys and gals are good at it. That goes a long way.”
In some ways, the northern district’s tactics need to resemble those of Baltimore, its neighbor to the north, especially when it comes to fighting drugs like heroin, Altomare said.
“When your district borders the heroin capital of the world, you have to hit heroin,” he said. “The northern district has more of a city feel because it’s so close to Baltimore. If you call for help here, help is minutes away. If you call for help in other parts of the county, it could be 20 minutes away.”
Altomare estimated about 85 percent of the district’s residents are law-abiding citizens, and when they call the police, their call is a big deal because they need help. Sometimes, someone in the other 15 percent also admits he or she needs help, and the officers have to be compassionate, he said.
“A heroin addict is never going to beat heroin on their own. When someone says, ‘I messed up, and I know I need help,’ we have to get him help,” he said.
The Northern District Police Community Relations Council seems to appreciate Altomare’s efforts, President Carl Brooks said. Many members remember him from his tenure as a sergeant.
“He’s a great guy, like Bill Krampf. He wants to get it done, and we like that,” Brooks said. “The northern district will not miss a beat.”
Now in his 19th year, Altomare has worked in every district and in almost every area of policing, except for homicide, K-9 and investigating white collar crimes. His first five years as an officer were with the Annapolis Police Department.
He still gets a kick of going on patrol occasionally with the officers and making an arrest. That may not happen as frequently with the paperwork and other administrative tasks he now has, he said.
But Altomare sought his promotion as a way to continue being his officers’ advocate, he said.
“I’m here for them when they need me, and I’ll fight for them when they need me,” he said.