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Hagerstown to add 7 police officers

December 10, 1997

Hagerstown to add 7 police officers

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Hagerstown City Police will get seven new police officers next year for a crime impact team, one more than expected, city officials said Tuesday.

City Council members gave the OK on Tuesday to hire seven police officers instead of six after federal grant programs offered the city funding toward an extra officer.

"I think it's fantastic. We can't have enough," Mayor Bob Bruchey said after the council's work session.

Bruchey said after a murder in Westview in July he drove through Westview, the West End and downtown without seeing a police officer on the street. Whether they were busy or not, people need to see police on the streets so they feel safe, he said.

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Police Chief Dale Jones said he was thrilled with the council's decision. "Any additional help we can get we can use," he said.

The crime impact team is expected to hit the streets in late September after new officers are hired and trained, Jones said. The team will consist of one sergeant and six officers.

The team will focus on combating specific problems such as illegal drugs and prostitution, Jones said. They will work in the designated "hotspot" area around Jonathan Street as well as other areas, he said.

The seven new officers will bring the city's police force up to 100 officers once an existing vacancy is filled, Jones said.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein emphasized that the city's authorized force still remains at 88. That means the city doesn't ensure funding the other 12 police positions once grant funding is gone.

Jones said the city had expected to hire six officers, two each through the hotspot program, community development block grants and the Cops Universal Hiring Grant program.

Community development block grant funding couldn't be used because of a policy change, he said.

The hotspot program approved one police officer for three years, Jones said. The city will get $34,000 the first year, but the amount for the last two years has not been decided.

The cops universal grant program approved $450,000 for the city toward five officers and a sergeant for three years, Jones said.

The entire cost of the seven officers, uniforms, cruisers and other equipment for three years will be $896,426, according to Jones.

What the grants don't pay for will come out of the city's general fund and the community development block grant program, he said.

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