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Funds would offset police overtime costs

January 28, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Funds would offset police overtime costs

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said Wednesday she would try to find state and federal funds to offset overtime costs for Hagerstown Police Department officers trying to combat the city's drug problem.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, State Sen. Donald F. Munson and Police Chief Dale Jones were among local officials who met with Townsend in Annapolis on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the mayor's request for funds to pay for overtime.

"We discussed the real challenges that people in Hagerstown are facing, the increase in violence, the increase in drug dealing," and how severely strained the city's resources are, Townsend said after the meeting.

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Townsend also said she would talk to the Maryland State Police superintendent about sending more troopers to Hagerstown to help combat the drug problem.

Bruchey earlier asked members of the local delegation to the General Assembly to help the city get $400,000 to pay for overtime costs that are higher than expected. He suggested it come from the $260 million state budget surplus.

The city used $438,044 of the $547,936 budgeted for police department overtime in the first six months of the current fiscal year.

Maryland State Police investigators helped local investigators and Washington County Narcotics Task Force members last May and June, increasing the number of arrests made and charges filed, Jones said.

Although members of the Washington County Narcotics Task Force and city officers made 546 drug arrests last year, the level of drug activity in the city remained high, Jones said.

Many of the drug dealers operating in Hagerstown are from New York, New Jersey and Florida, he said.

Hagerstown received a hot spot grant of $221,000, the most given for any "hot spot" in the state. Townsend said she would see if additional hot spot funding might be available.

The HotSpot program provides state and federal funds to help fight crime in areas with high crime rates. The city's hot spot runs roughly between North Walnut and North Potomac streets and Antietam street to Bethel Street.

Townsend said she would talk to U.S. Department of Justice officials about funding and check on whether money might be available in the governor's supplemental budget, which is presented in March.

After state legislators go through the governor's budget, and make any cuts they decide upon, the governor can place the funds they cut into his supplemental budget, said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.

Munson said Wednesday's 40-minute meeting went well, but that $400,000 is a large request.

The governor has put a lot of money into the county lately, including a budget proposal of $16.7 million for state-funded construction projects, Munson said.

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