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HotSpots area expands

December 16, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Hagerstown's HotSpot high-crime area has been expanded and the city will receive nearly $100,000 to improve its anti-crime programs as part of a statewide expansion of the HotSpots Communities Initiative, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said Thursday.

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Some areas that had been on the fringes of Hagerstown's original HotSpot are now included in the designation.

The additional HotSpot funding will be used for programs to fight crime and to increase police presence.

"Any additional funds are always a plus," said Carolyn Brooks, Hagerstown's HotSpot coordinator.

Brooks said local participants are eager to put the money to work.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said the grant awarded to Hagerstown was only 30 percent of the amount the city had applied for and won't be enough to hire four new officers as city officials had hoped.

"Anything is better than nothing. We can't complain," he said.

This $6.3 million statewide expansion of the HotSpot program was approved by the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year.

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Of that amount, $3.5 million will be used to increase to 62 the number of neighborhoods receiving anti-crime assistance, Townsend said.

In all, 26 new HotSpot neighborhoods were designated and five jurisdictions, such as Hagerstown, chose to expand the borders of an existing HotSpot neighborhood, she said.

The remaining $2.8 million will be used to hire 57 adult and juvenile probation agents to work in the state's new HotSpot neighborhoods. The new agents will team with community police officers to monitor high-risk offenders, Townsend said.

"We've had great success in the first phase of HotSpots, but I don't think anyone is satisfied. There is still too much crime, violence and fear," Townsend said in a press release.

Hagerstown's original HotSpot is a roughly rectangular area stretching from Prospect Avenue to Memorial Boulevard and bounded to the east and west by Prospect Street and Mulberry Street.

With the expansion, Hagerstown's HotSpot area will include:

Downtown-Fairgrounds




- West Side: Potomac Street from the railroad tracks (McComas Street) south to West Church Street, west on Church Street to Jonathan Street, south on Jonathan Street, which becomes Summit Avenue, to West Baltimore Street.

- North Side: The railroad tracks just north of McComas Street.

- East Side: Mulberry Street from the railroad tracks (McComas Street) south to East Baltimore Street.

- South Side: East Baltimore Street at Mulberry Street west to Summit Avenue.

West End




- West Side: West Side Avenue between West Franklin Street and Salem Avenue.

- North Side: Salem Avenue at West Side Avenue east to Burhans Boulevard.

- East Side: Burhans Boulevard from West Church Street to West Washington Street.

- South Side: West Washington Street at Burhans Boulevard, west to High Street then North on High to West Franklin Street and then west to West Side Avenue.

According to Townsend's office, violent crime in Hagerstown's HotSpot area has decreased from 109 from July 1997 to June 1998 to 85 from July 1998 to June 1999.

Nonviolent felony crimes have been on the rise, however, with 535 recorded from July 1997 to June 1998 compared to 544 from July 1998 to June 1999.

The HotSpot Communities Initiative is the focus of Gov. Parris Glendening's and Townsend's four-part crime control and prevention strategy introduced in 1997.

The initiative targets high-risk offenders, aims to reclaim at-risk neighborhoods, protects and supports victims and prevents youth violence, drug use and gangs.

The intent is to promote crime-fighting efforts by a joint effort of police, community groups, parole and probation agents and after-school programs.

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