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Public safety seminar set for August

July 26, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

A public safety seminar featuring a panel discussion with members of law enforcement, social service and other agencies is scheduled for Aug. 22.

Sponsored by the HotSpots Communities Initiative, the seminar runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater. No preregistration is necessary, said organizer Carolyn Brooks, HotSpots coordinator.

The goal of the free seminar is to educate the public about the services various local agencies offer and promote communication among them, Brooks said.

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"It'll let the average citizen see how the entire system works and ask questions," Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith said.

The program will start at 9 a.m. After a brief introduction, Smith will present a scenario describing a young mother who houses a drug dealer and herself becomes addicted to drugs. The drug dealer beats her up, her home is raided and she loses custody of her child.

Each of the representatives on the panel will discuss the services they offer and which would be appropriate for the mother.

"We're very excited about reaching out to the public," said Vicki Sadehvandi, director of Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused (CASA).

Booths will be set up in the theater lobby, where attendees can find more information about the agencies and will be able to sign up for the Citizens Academy.

Based on the Citizens Police Academy, which educates the public about aspects of the city police department during weekly seminars, the Citizens Academy goes beyond law enforcement to include sessions on prisons, addictions, juvenile justice, the State's Attorney's office, the health department, parole and probation and the housing authority.

Introduced in 1997, the HotSpots Communities 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 through a joint effort of police, community groups, parole and probation agents and afterschool programs.

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