Reno won't be here for parley

October 09, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

Three days after announcing that U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno would be the guest speaker at a countywide neighborhood summit on crime prevention next Saturday, Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann said Friday that Ms. Reno has a scheduling conflict and won't attend the conference after all.

Mrs. Rehrmann noted that Reginal Robinson, deputy assistant U.S. attorney general, would attend the gathering in Ms. Reno's place. Mr. Robinson is noted for his anti-violence initiatives nationwide and will likely speak on that topic, Mrs. Rehrmann said.

The summit, to be held at Harford Community College, is the creation of the county executive, who said she wants to bring community leaders together to brainstorm on neighborhood-based solutions to the growing drug and crime problems in the county.

"We need to look at creative and new approaches to working with our youth-at-risk and keeping our neighborhoods safe," Mrs. Rehrmann said. "This will be the beginning of our community efforts to 'roll up our sleeves' and make a difference."

Other guest speakers will be Joseph Harpold, a FBI special agent who is a national expert on community-oriented problem solving, and U.S. Attorney for Maryland Lynn Battaglia. Both have been at the forefront of a national trend toward empowering neighborhoods in the process of crime fighting.

"We may not all have violent crime in our communities, but Harford County can't afford to sit back and do nothing. It's only a matter of time before it hits every community," Mrs. Rehrmann said Friday. She said the county spends $15,000 per year to accommodate each inmate in the county Detention Center. She said it would be more cost-effective to spend the money on "preventing" crime, particularly among young people.

In that regard, she said, she will announce at the summit the first eight in a series of grants to financially support community groups' innovative crime-prevention programs. The executive has allocated $50,000 in this fiscal year's budget to support community-based programs geared to at-risk youths in fighting drug use and crime. The grants, which will range from $500 to $5,000 will be given to both new projects and continuing ones.

Applicants representing about 30 different communities have applied for the grants, and the process is still open, said John O'Neill, chairman of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council that recommends applicants to the executive.

Mr. O'Neill said the eight grants to be awarded Saturday represent about $20,000.

More than 200 people are expected to attend the half-day summit, including representatives from the courts, social service agencies, juvenile services, law-enforcement agencies, parent-teacher associations and community groups in the county.

The event begins at 8 a.m. in Chesapeake Center. Seating is limited. For more information, call 638-3350.

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