Members of citizen groups keep an eye out for crime

September 14, 2007

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 in being involved must go through an application process.

Members of the nonprofit group patrol the streets, serving as extra sets of eyes for the Hagerstown Police Department.

The group, which has about 20 members, including two public officials, has been responsible for numerous arrests, Wolford said.

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.

For information, call Hagerstown Police Department Lt. Tim Wolford at 301-790-3700, ext. 456.


Neighborhood Watch

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.

Police officers routinely attend neighborhood watch meetings.

Neighborhood Watch groups and contact numbers include:

· Fairgrounds Neighborhood Crime Watch - Robert Nigh, 301-790-3839.

· Valencia Neighborhood Watch Group - Mary Haines and Cathy Ridenour, co-leaders. Call Haines at 301-739-7130 or Hagerstown Police Lt. Tim Wolford at 301-790-3700.

· We Care Downtown Neighborhood Watch - For information, call City Police 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. Hagerstown Neighborhood College, which is sponsored by Neighborhoods 1st, is a 10-week program designed to give city residents a better understanding of City Hall's functions.

For more information on Neighborhoods 1st or Neighborhood College, call Cindy Blackstock, City Community Development Coordinator, at 301-766-4055.

There currently are eight groups. They include:

· Broadway-North

· City Square

· Historic Heights

· Elizabethtown East

· North End

· Northwest Neighbors

· Security 1st

· We Care Neighborhoods 1st

Washington County

Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy 1st Class 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

· Town of Sharpsburg

· Halfway Manor

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


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

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

For information, call Smithsburg Town Hall at 301-824-7234.

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