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Residents thankful for Noland Village raid

October 10, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

Noland Village residents Thursday praised the drug bust that occurred the previous night just outside the public housing complex - but some said they wish police would beef up presence inside the community.

Brenda Herrera, 33, said she moved to Court 8 about two years ago to escape the drugs that had overrun her Prince George's County neighborhood. But over the last year, she said Noland's drug problem has grown distressingly worse.

"We need to get this stuff out of Court 8 because I can't even let my kids out anymore," she said.

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Wednesday night's raid at 971 Noland Drive netted two handguns, four long-arm firearms, a large amount of cash and large quantities of cocaine and marijuana, according to police. Six adults were charged with a variety of drug offenses.

Herrera said her three children - ages 3, 6 and 9 - have brought home bags of white powder and marijuana. She said she flushes it down the toilet.

"Court 8 has turned into a really bad place," she said. "I can stand inside my apartment and watch the transactions."

However, residents who have been working to build a neighborhood watch say they have seen an improvement recently. They said their biggest obstacle is convincing more of their neighbors to get involved.

Jackie Smith, who has lived in Court 5 for about four years, said she has seen a dramatic improvement.

"This used to be one of the worst courts there was. There's been a complete turnaround," she said. "More people are standing up. Ain't nobody going to take me over."

But Smith and others said support for the watch so far has been sporadic. She said only about five people regularly attend meetings.

Kathy Olson, who serves as captain of the neighborhood watch and president of the Noland Village Tenants Association, said some of the pervasive fear has lifted since the watch formed about nine months ago.

"A lot of people were afraid to even come to the meetings at first. I think the fear has started to lessen," she said.

Since residents formed the watch, Olson said she has noticed an improvement in police response. She also gave high marks to the Hagerstown Housing Authority security guards, who have come under fire at other public housing complexes in the city.

Olson said she thinks a number of high-profile arrests have scared off some the troublemakers.

"They've had a lot of busts out here in the last year," she said.

Tabitha Petersen, another neighborhood watch volunteer, said the relationship between residents and the security force has improved dramatically.

"I see them all the time, patrolling just like they're supposed to," she said. "The residents are starting to rely on them when they have a problem."

Two years ago, Petersen recalled, drug users were brazen: "You could walk out your door and they'd be smoking it. You'd see them selling it."

Four suspects charged after Wednesday night's raid remained at the Washington County Detention Center on Thursday. Russell Polland and Jason Polland were held on $35,000 and $20,000 respectively.

Shandu Nalls was held on $20,000 bond and Veronica Hurley was held on $2,500 bond.

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