Status of HotSpot grant uncertain

June 28, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

With only three days left before the state's fiscal year ends, it is unclear how much money, if any, the city will receive for the popular HotSpot Communities anti-crime grant program.

Carolyn Brooks, the city's HotSpot office coordinator, said Friday that neither she nor Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith has heard from state officials about the status of the grant for the new fiscal year that begins Tuesday.

"Through June 30, everything's taken care of," Brooks said.

After that, she said, "I can't even speculate as to what's going to happen.

"This is the first time we've been in this situation" since the program began, Brooks said.

The HotSpot program was begun in 1997. Hagerstown was among the original 36 communities selected for the program and received its first program grant in 1998.


Over the past five years, the city has received $1.1 million, which has paid for two police officers' salaries, youth anti-crime programs and after-school programs.

The program also sought to increase community involvement in crime-fighting and better communications with law enforcement agencies.

Part of the coordinator's job is to meet with community members and law enforcement officials to foster better relations between the two as well as improve communications about crime in the community. The program also began regular meetings between city police and Parole and Probation agents.

A message left Friday afternoon for the state HotSpot coordinator in the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention seeking comment about the status of the city's grant was not returned by Friday evening.

Smith said Friday that while he has not heard from state officials, he is confident the city will get money. He's just not sure how much.

"I have no indication that there's a problem with our grant request," Smith said.

He said he expects "to get a percentage of what we got last year," and that the programs paid for will therefore have a smaller focus.

The state-recognized HotSpot area is about a tenth of the city, with its center around Jonathan Street.

Brooks said the official request went in June 1 for about $130,000, about half of what the city received over the past year.

Brooks said she this year she received $62,000 from the state to run the local HotSpot office, about $42,000 of which paid her salary and benefits. She said she plans to come to work Tuesday even without official notice.

"We'll continue unless we hear otherwise," she said.

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