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Officer will lead unit patrolling for street crime

July 23, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Officer will lead unit patrolling for street crime



The City of Hagerstown's war on drugs just got a new leader.

Sgt. Curt Wood was recently named commander of the city's Street Crimes Unit.

The two-year-old Street Crimes Unit is a six-member police team assigned the primary task of cracking down on drugs and prostitution.

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"It was a dream come true for me" said Wood, who has been an officer for more than 10 years.

Wood said he knows he has big shoes to fill with the retirement of Sgt. John Ryder, who formerly commanded the Street Crimes Unit.

"He did an outstanding job. I'll just try to follow his example," Wood said.

Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith said he's confident Wood will be up to the challenge of the position.

"He's a natural leader," said Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

Bruchey said Wood excelled as a member of the Street Crimes Unit and has gained the respect of people in the city's high-crime areas.

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Much of Wood's work involves drug and prostitution stings, he said. Several times a week the Street Crimes Unit conducts regular stings in which a police officer will pose as an undercover drug dealer and reverse stings in which undercover officers attempt to buy drugs from drug dealers.

Since prostitution is a byproduct of Hagerstown's drug market, the police conduct both regular and reverse prostitution stings, Wood said.

The Street Crimes Unit conducted 30 reverse drug stings which resulted in 192 arrests, according to statistics compiled by the Police Department for January, February and March.

Also over that time, the Street Crimes Unit had 62 criminal informant drug buys which resulted in 97 arrests and 18 solicitation stings, bringing in 75 arrests.

Being part of a sting operation is fascinating, he said.

"There's nothing like the thrill when a deal's done and you move in, make the arrest and see the impact of that arrest," he said.

Wood has been a member of the Street Crimes Unit since its inception and serves on the bicycle patrol.

Prior to his promotion, Wood headed up his shift's "flex squad," which has one or two uniform patrol officers on each shift given the primary job of drug investigation in problem areas.

The Street Crimes Unit has been making an impact on the Jonathan Street community and police have noted a decline in drug dealing in that area, Wood said.

"We are keeping our heads above water in some areas and in other areas it's under water," he said.

Recently, a new section of Hagerstown has become a center for drug sales and use, he said. The Street Crimes Unit will be hitting the Mulberry and Franklin street areas hard to prevent the situation from worsening, he said.

Knowing that drug dealers watch officers and keep track of their shifts, the Street Crimes Unit will continue to mix up its working hours, he said.

Being successful in keeping the city's streets safe and free of drugs will require the help of informants, said Wood.

"We rely on residents," Wood said.

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