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Crime team leader may be hired by December

October 16, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

A crime impact team approved by Hagerstown City Council members last spring isn't expected to hit the streets for almost a year, but a coordinator to help Washington County's criminal Hotspot could be hired by December, Police Chief Dale Jones said Tuesday.

The contractual coordinator will be paid a $32,000 salary with the remainder of the $43,000 grant going towards benefits and office- and work-related expenses, Jones said.

The coordinator and at least one police officer will be hired through the state's Hotspot Initiative, which helps communities take a comprehensive approach to fighting crime by focusing on prevention activities, traditional law enforcement and community involvement.

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The Hotspot area covers about 16 blocks and stretches from Bethel Street to Antietam Street and North Walnut to North Potomac streets.

Jones said the coordinator's duties will include working with Brothers United Who Dare to Care to get neighbors involved through activities such as cleanups as well as help with an after-school program.

Children living in the Hotspot area can attend a homework club at Fountaindale Elementary School and then be taken to either the North Avenue community center or the Boys' and Girls' Club for computer and recreational activities, Jones said.

The police officer the grant will pay for will be part of a crime impact team of five officers and a sergeant to focus on drugs, prostitution, disorder crimes such as loitering, noise and graffiti and other specific problems, he said.

The team is expected to spend about 50 percent of its time in the Hotspot area, Jones said.

The crime impact team isn't expected to hit the streets until late summer at the earliest because eight new officers need to be trained before the department can commit more experienced officers to the team, Jones said.

Two officers with previous experience need to be certified locally and city officials are recruiting candidates to attend the police academy from January to June, he said.

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