Lt. Gov. Townsend visits Hagerstown

August 06, 1999

Kathleen Kennedy TownsendBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Preventing crime and violence in Hagerstown's HotSpot area is going to take a group effort, according to Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

"We have to understand that all parts of the community need to get involved - the police, prosecutors, parents and teachers all have a role to play," she said.

Townsend said Hagerstown has made strides since the HotSpot Communities initiative was launched in 1997 and should continue to do so in its third year.


She announced the county's third-year grant amounts for the program during a presentation Thursday afternoon at the Asbury Methodist Church, on Jonathan Street.

Washington County will receive:

- $5,000 for community mobilization, for such things as community cleanups and neighborhood watch groups.

- $35,000 for community policing, to provide continued funding for a police officer dedicated to the HotSpot area.

- $25,000 for youth programs, after-school programs that provide tutoring and teach computer literacy and social skills.

- $9,300 for a part-time coordinator to assist in the implementation of the "Character Counts!" character development program in the HotSpot.

- $47,600 for a full-time neighborhood coordinator to continue to enhance the collaboration of agencies, individuals and organizations and the coordination of the HotSpot strategy.

In addition, a $113,125 grant will be provided to create a Community Care Coordination Center in Washington County. The center will be a single location where families and children in need can be directed to proper services. Its goal is to serve about 500 families and reduce Washington County's juvenile justice caseload by 35 percent, Townsend said.

The program involves law enforcement and parole and probation officers, prevention efforts and community groups to target high-crime areas.

The HotSpot area in Hagerstown is a rectangular section of the city from Prospect Avenue to Memorial Boulevard and bounded on the east and west by Prospect Street and Mulberry Street.

A group of about 150 people filled the church's pews and balcony, and stood in the aisles to hear Townsend outline the accomplishments made during the program's second year.

Townsend said the initiative can be credited with reducing crime in the HotSpot area, and a partnership with Crime Solvers to encourage citizen involvement in reporting crimes or suspicious behavior.

She said it also had a role in the "Character Counts!" coalition and a series of concerts and cultural events at Wheaton Park.

The HotSpot program can "achieve great results because of early intervention strategies," she said.

Townsend said it is important to identify at-risk children and help guide them away from destructive behavior.

"Kids are not born good or bad. They learn what they are taught," she said.

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