Westminster police enlist residents for crime watch Effort follows January homicide

March 30, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Westminster police officials outlined a plan last night to enlist homeowners associations in revitalizing a neighborhood crime watch program.

The police effort, which also is expected to include four additional officers and increased emphasis on "cop on the beat" community policing, comes in the wake of a Jan. 28 homicide on Center Street. Gregory L. Howard, 22, of Westminster, was slain in what police described as a drug-relating shooting.

"We do still see neighbors looking out for neighbors," said Cpl. Rick May, the department's crime prevention officer. But the informal neighbor system doesn't work as well as it used to because of increased mobility, he told representatives of homeowners associations at their quarterly meeting with the mayor.

Charles Street resident William F. Dixon, who is trying to start a neighborhood association in his area, said homeowners on the street find themselves squeezed between subsidized housing projects at each end.

"We don't have any problems in the middle of Charles Street. It's the two ends," Mr. Dixon said. He said major problems are people loitering on the street and drugs, but he asked the public to remember that drug trafficking in Westminster is not limited to Charles and Center Streets.

Police Chief Sam Leppo agreed. "We've concentrated on drug arrests on Sullivan Avenue," he said, adding that police spent time last summer tracking a suspected drug dealer in a new subdivision. The modified neighborhood watch program will rely on homeowners associations to serve as links between police and residents.

Corporal May said police will produce computerized quarterly reports on five types of crimes, broken down by streets, so that citizens will be aware, for example, of recent break-ins in their areas.

Associations will be asked to pass on the information through newsletters or at homeowners meetings. The crime listing will include reports of the numbers of break-ins, drug violations, thefts from cars, robberies and malicious destruction of property on individual streets.

Corporal May said the police are also broadening their tips line, 857-TIPS, to include neighborhood crime as well as drug abuse.

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