County seeks grant to fight 'hot spots'

March 30, 1997


Staff Writer

Washington County officials will meet this week to flesh out the details of a plan to target a high-crime area with state and federal money.

Charles R. Messmer, a Washington County Health Department employee who is coordinating the group, said police officials, prosecutors, juvenile services representatives and others will meet Thursday morning.

County leaders must agree on a high-crime area to designate as a "hot spot" and begin preparing a thick binder-sized application for the grant under the state's "Hotspots Community Initiative."


The deadline is May 8.

County officials could find up to $200,000 a year available for three years, Messmer said. The money could be put to a wide variety of uses, from adding police officers to drug and crime prevention programs to health and education services.

"We're going to try to put together a strategy," Messmer said. "I think (state officials) are going to be pretty flexible on this."

While officials have a reached a consensus on targeting the Jonathan Street area, Messmer said the county must draw a specific map.

The goal of the program, announced at a conference in Baltimore two weeks ago, is to fashion a coordinated effort against crime, which research shows occurs at a relatively small number of addresses in concentrated areas.

State officials say they want to include all phases of the criminal justice system - the police, prosecutors, the courts and jail.

Messmer said Washington County already has a high level of cooperation among the agencies.

"We have an up on that here in Washington County," he said.

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