Officials hear Pleasant Valley residents' concerns about crime

Police substations, response times and crime prevention among topics discussed

Police substations, response times and crime prevention among topics discussed

September 16, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

ROHRERSVILLE -- A variety of topics, from the effectiveness of a police substation in the Pleasant Valley area to how police use fingerprints in solving crimes, were discussed Wednesday night during a public meeting about crime concerns in southern Washington County.

About 45 people at the Rohrersville Ruritan Schoolhouse heard from a panel of speakers that included Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore, Washington County Commissioners Kristin B. Aleshire and William J. Wivell, County Administrator Gregory Murray, Lt. David Kloos of the Maryland State Police and Kevin Lewis, director of emergency services for Washington County.

The meeting was organized by a group of citizens concerned about burglaries and thefts in the Pleasant Valley area, response times to crime calls and how 911 calls are routed.

The sheriff's department at 500 Western Maryland Parkway in Hagerstown is as far as 25 miles from some locations in the Pleasant Valley area, which is generally considered to include Keedysville, Rohrersville, Brownsville, Sandy Hook and Knoxville. Kourtney Lowery, a spokeswoman for Citizens for the Preservation of Pleasant Valley, has said it can take police about 40 minutes to respond to calls in the area.


A moderator started the meeting by asking the panelists a series of questions, including whether they thought there needed to be more of police presence in the Pleasant Valley area and whether a police substation would be effective to thwart crime there.

Mullendore said increased police presence is good for everyone but police protection is about balancing service for all areas. And it is also controlled by budgets, Mullendore said.

Mullendore said response times in the southern part of the county are probably not what they should be, but he said police substations don't work.

Mullendore said he wants to move toward having deputies working more out of their cars so they can stay in the areas they are working. Deputies can stay in their cars to fill out reports and "their car will be their office," Mullendore said.

Mullendore also talked about a central booking facility in the county that will allow officers to process prisoners much quicker. Processing prisoners can take three hours, but it will be reduced to about 30 minutes with the central booking facility, allowing officers to get back to the streets faster, Mullendore said.

Regarding 911 calls, Lowery said previously that a woman in the area called 911 to report a break-in at her home and her call went to the Frederick County 911 center instead of to the Washington County 911 center. Lowery said she thinks the call went to Frederick County because some people in Pleasant Valley have 834 and 416 telephone prefixes, which also are used in Frederick County.

Lewis said he would look into the issue. Lewis also suggested that when people call 911 they tell dispatchers they are in Washington County.

If someone has a problem with 911 calls being routed properly, Mullendore said the local 911 center can be called and officials there will be able to go into their database to fix the problem.

Another point mentioned was that some residents were concerned that fingerprints were not taken at scenes of crimes in Pleasant Valley. Mullendore said gathering fingerprints at a crime scene is not as effective in solving a case as some people might believe and he cautioned people not to rely on what they see on television shows.

Mullendore suggested that crime prevention also falls to residents.

In one of the burglaries, a neighbor noticed a truck pulling up to the house and watched items being taken out of the home but did not tell anybody, Mullendore said.

"You have to be our eyes and ears," Mullendore said.

A.J. Nicolosi, who lives on Keep Tryst Road, said he is getting frustrated dealing with problems in his neighborhood and he asked the panel what needs to be done to get more officers in Pleasant Valley.

"Is it a money issue?" he asked.

Wivell responded that the commissioners have increased funding to the sheriff's department.

Pleasant Valley residents also complained about traffic problems like speeding, and Rohrersville resident Chris Klein suggested the use of speed cameras, which allow police to issue a ticket to an offender after the camera records a vehicle's license plate number.

"It just seems like it would pay for itself," Klein said.

Mullendore said he didn't think speed cameras would solve speeding problems, but said he would look into the idea.

How to find help

Police officials offered several phone numbers and Web sites that county residents may use to deal with crime issues.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department has crime prevention specialists who assess homes and businesses to give advice on making them secure, Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said.

The specialists can be reached at 240-313-2194 or 240-313-2195.

If people cannot reach deputies regarding cases, Mullendore said he can be contacted at the sheriff's department at 240-313-2101.

Mullendore said there is a Web site where people can type in their addresses and see what crimes have been reported in their neighborhood. The Web site is

The Herald-Mail Articles