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NAACP to discuss HotSpots initiative

July 13, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

Days after praising an announcement their neighborhood would be the focus of grant to fight crime, some Jonathan Street residents are having second thoughts.

The Washington County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People plans to discuss Maryland's "HotSpot Community Initiative" at a meeting tonight. The state has promised more than $180,000 in state and federal funds to target the high-crime area.

When the plan was announced two weeks ago, community leaders had nothing but positive words.

"I just hope these young boys coming from these big cities don't start marking off turf," said Donald Davis, president of Washington County NAACP.

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Davis said then that the HotSpot grant was a welcome addition to the war on drug crime in the neighborhood.

But Davis said last week that he has questions about the details, which would provide money to hire a new community police officer, add parole and probation officers and start an after-school program.

Davis said he thought far more money would be earmarked for the community organizations that are on the front lines of the anti-crime effort. He criticized as woefully inadequate the $5,000 slated for citizens on patrol and community cleanups.

"I don't think that's right," he said. "There's not a thing we can do with $5,000. We need more than that."

Davis said he personally felt the community should send the money back unless the plan is reworked.

"If it's just planned for us to fail, then fine," he said.

The HotSpot program is a an approach that seeks to obliterate crime by focusing on small, concentrated areas. According to statistics included in the county's grant application, for instance, the Jonathan Street area accounts for nearly a quarter of the county's violent crime.

The state has pledged more than $10.5 million to 35 neighborhoods throughout Maryland.

State and local officials have said they think the program will be able to reduce crime by eliminating the conditions that create it.

Harry Barnett, president of the community group Brothers United Who Dare to Care, said he has not had a chance to examine the plan.

"I haven't had enough time to assess what's going down," he said. "I like to deal with facts."

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