After more than 13 years at the helm of CSAFE in Hagerstown, Carolyn Brooks said Wednesday she is stepping down to pursue other interests.
"It is hard to walk away," the Hagerstown resident said. "It's my baby, and my baby is almost 14 years old."
Brooks will be replaced as the program's coordinator by Officer Gerard Kendle of the Hagerstown Police Department, city Police Chief Arthur Smith said.
Kendle has been the community officer assigned to CSAFE for many years, Smith said.
An initiative created by former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the program engages community partners to prevent crime, Brooks said.
Originally known as HotSpots Communities, the state-funded program became CSAFE, which stands for Collaborative Supervision and Focused Enforcement, she said.
The main thrust of the program was to put law enforcement, parole and probation, juvenile services, housing authorities and other agencies in the same meetings to better address crime in a designated area, she said.
Brooks said there are many ways to prevent crime, citing the annual National Night Out as an example of a CSAFE-run event.
Brooks said she has been with the crime-prevention program since it started in Hagerstown.
As coordinator, she brought the initiative to the designated CSAFE area of Hagerstown — framed by Prospect Avenue, Burhans Boulevard, Mulberry Street and Memorial Boulevard — building the partnerships and strategies needed to meet specific needs in the community.
Although the state has shifted CSAFE's focus from community outreach to violence prevention, many of the local community outreach efforts continued, Brooks said.
There was a desire to keep the original concept intact, she said, noting that she sought other funding sources to cover state cuts.
When Brooks informed the city she was leaving her post with CSAFE, Smith said Kendle was the obvious choice to take over.
In addition to his work as a CSAFE officer, which will continue, Kendle will assume the coordinator's duties, although he will not receive a pay raise, Smith said.
"I look at it as a challenge," Kendle said. "I'm a very community-oriented person, its kind of a niche that I like. The advantage is I have worked with Carolyn for about 12 of the 13 years she's been around."
By moving the coordinator duties to Kendle, Smith said the CSAFE transition is a rare opportunity to add a second officer to the program as well as a new officer to the police force.
CSAFE is funded by an annual state grant to the police department.
Smith said he is looking for other community partners to take over the afterschool programs offered by CSAFE. Those programs provide a long-term crime-prevention strategy by working with youth, and Smith said he hopes they are able to continue.
Kendle said one of the biggest things he wants to do as coordinator is set up a system with nonprofit organizations to ensure that people have the services where they need them.
"She's built these partnerships, and I want to use these partnerships and build more," he said.
As Brooks prepares for her last day on Sept. 16, she said she wishes Kendle well.
While she may not be with CSAFE any more, Brooks said she plans to remain involved in the Hagerstown community.