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Citizen Groups

September 24, 2006

Citizens on Patrol

The Hagerstown Citizens on Patrol Inc. is a group of Hagerstown and Washington County citizens who patrol the streets of downtown Hagerstown a few nights a week looking for crime.

Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Tim Wolford, who oversees the group, said interested citizens must be at least 21 years old, have no criminal record and have a valid driver's license. Those interested must go through an application process.

Members of the nonprofit group patrol the streets using their own cars, but Wolford said that by 2007, the group is expected to use three retired Washington County Sheriff's Department cruisers. Also by 2007, it is expected that participants will be paid for gasoline used on patrols, he said.

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The group, which has about 20 members, including two public officials, has been responsible for numerous arrests, Wolford said. It assists the Hagerstown Police Department.

Citizens on Patrol operates out of city police headquarters on North Burhans Boulevard. Wolford said the group is working on fundraising efforts to get its own office space at Fairgrounds Park.

Call Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Tim Wolford at 301-790-3700, ext. 456.

Hagerstown Neighborhood Watch groups

Neighborhood Watch is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and community members that recognizes and encourages active participation of residents as a critical element in community safety.

This is done through neighborhood residents' willingness to look out for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods, and report that activity to law enforcement and to each other.

Neighborhood Watch groups include:

· Fairgrounds Neighborhood Crime Watch: Robert Nigh, 301-790-3839; or Hagerstown Police Lt. William C. Wright III, 301-790-3700.

· Valencia Neighborhood Watch Group: Mary Haines and Cathy Ridenour are co-leaders. Haines may be reached at 301-739-7130; Hagerstown Police Lt. Tom Alexander may be reached at 301-790-3700.

· We Care Downtown Neighborhood Watch: Hagerstown Police Lt. William C. Wright III, at 301-790-3700.

Neighborhoods 1st

The Neighborhoods 1st program is organized by the City of Hagerstown and designed to bring citizen participation back into local government and increase residents' responsibility for their neighborhoods.

The groups focus on communication, beautification, safety and security.

For more information, call Shelli Dronsfield, City Community Development Coordinator, at 301-739-8577, ext. 191.

There currently are 11 Neighborhoods 1st groups. They include:

· Broadway-North

· City Square

· Elgin Station

· Historic Heights

· Elizabethtown East

· North End

· Northwest Neighbors

· Ridge Avenue

· Security 1st

· South End

· We Care Neighborhoods 1st

Washington County

Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy Jim Holsinger, the Neighborhood Watch coordinator, may be reached at 240-313-2194.

Holsinger said Neighborhood Watch groups are active in the following areas.

· Crest View area of Boonsboro

· Sunset Acres on Cheryl Drive

· Greenberry Hills in the Halfway area

· Lakeside Mobile Home Park

· Town of Williamsport

· Landis Road area of Hagerstown

Business watch

There also is a business watch - in which a group of businesses watch over each other's businesses - at Valley Mall, Holsinger said.

Town group

Although the Smithsburg Police Department does not run a neighborhood watch group, it does meet with the Citizens Police Advisory Committee monthly at Smithsburg Town Hall, 21 W. Water St., Smithsburg.

People must apply to join the group and members are appointed by the police department. The group meets the first Thursday of every month.

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