Trooper will be available for motorists at I-95 stop

July 02, 1996|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,SUN STAFF

State police have given motorists on Interstate 95 near Laurel a chance to stop and talk to troopers without seeing blue and red flashing lights in their rearview mirrors.

State police launched yesterday a new program called HI-COP -- Highway Community Policing -- at the Laurel rest area off northbound I-95 in Howard County.

State officials hope HI-COP will improve relations between citizens and state police and encourage motorists to obey speed limits and respect the law.

Motorists will be able to report problems such as dangerous drivers, road hazards and disabled vehicles.

"We just want to make our highways as safe as possible," said Cpl. Laura Lu Herman, a trooper assigned to the public affairs unit.

"Highways are an integral link between all of Maryland's communities."

In January 1995, officials from the state police, the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development began planning the new station as an extension of community policing from neighborhoods to highways.

Many police departments around Maryland use the community policing philosophy to form better relations and contacts with ordinary citizens. Howard County has satellite police offices in the Rideout Heath and Stevens Forest neighborhoods in Columbia and in the Seasons Apartments in North Laurel.

Herman said police hope the presence of a trooper at the station every day will comfort motorists who want immediate help.

A trooper has been assigned to staff an office in the rest area's visitors' center for one month, Herman said.

Next month, state police officials will decide whether to continue the program and expand it to other rest stops, Herman said.

Officials also will decide which hours are best to staff the office. State police expect citizens to use the program more during morning and evening rush hours, weekends and holidays.

Pub Date: 7/02/96

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