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Deputy works to lhelp people avoid being victims

Jim Holsinger

Jim Holsinger

April 29, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

Even though he was little more than a toddler when his grandfather passed away, Jim Holsinger said he was nonetheless influenced greatly by stories of the man's career as a Washington County Sheriff's Department deputy.

"He died when I was a child, but I have his uniform, handcuffs and his badges," Holsinger said, referring to Lewis "Elwood" Holsinger.

Although Holsinger, 38, worked for a time while he was still in school in the family business, Holsinger's Meat Market in Maugansville, he held onto his dream.

In 1994, he completed the Western Maryland Police Academy and went to work at the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

"I started in judicial at first, but that was only for a year," Holsinger said.

After that, he transferred into patrol and now holds the rank of deputy 1st class.

Former Sheriff Charles Mades, now retired, wanted a specialized crime prevention unit and Holsinger and Forrest Sprecher were tapped.

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"The philosophy of law enforcement was beginning to change from reactive to more proactive," said Holsinger.

From the beginning, there was a need for public presentations to help people understand the workings of the department and how to avoid becoming a crime victim.

An organization for senior citizens known as Triad began about the same time and its members work closely with Holsinger and also with his current partner, Deputy 1st Class Dan Watson.

The SALT Council - Seniors and Law Enforcement Together - has over the years approached Holsinger with possible topics for seminars, many of which are held on a regular basis at the AMVETS on Frederick Street.

"Mary Della Toffalo makes sure it happens," Holsinger said, noting that she has been instrumental in the work of both Triad and the SALT Council in Washington County.

Recent programs have included information on Alzheimer's, taxes, identity theft and health care.

"I also make public appearances to field questions about crime prevention," Holsinger said.

And he coordinates the work of neighborhood watch groups, of which there are about nine in Washington County.

Some are starting up and other groups are looking into the possibility, said Holsinger, who tries to get to at least one meeting of each group a year.

Holsinger admits that working as crime prevention officer wasn't exactly his intention when he joined the department. "But it has become my niche," he said.

Often he hears back from people whose lives were positively affected by something he presented or by a seminar that he helped organize.

"Law enforcement is statistically driven, but this is different," Hol-singer said. "You may never know how many people avoided problems because of what we did for them."

A graduate of North Hagerstown High School, Holsinger is married and the father of five children.




Q&A



Name: Jim Holsinger

Hometown: Maugansville

Occupation: Crime prevention officer for the Washington County Sheriff's Department

What was your proudest moment?: The births of his children

Whom do you most admire, and why?: His parents - they are dedicated and hardworking people.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received and who gave it to you?: "People don't really care what you know until they know that you care," from Jim's now retired former partner, Forrest Sprecher

What is the next goal you would like to achieve?: To help develop a youth diversionary program that will put first-time drug and alcohol offenders into intensive treatment rather than locking them up.

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