HotSpot in Taneytown Carroll County: City figures prevention is worth a pound of cure in fighting crime.

March 26, 1997

TANEYTOWN IS the crime "hot spot" of Carroll County? That's the opinion of county Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, who tipped the governor's office to pick the northwest Carroll town for a cut of $3.5 million in federal and state crime prevention grants.

Not that Taneytown is rocked by crime waves or fighting a hard-core problem.

Rather, the incorporated city of nearly 5,000 residents is willing to take a pro-active role toward community and social problems that can foster criminal activity.

"We are trying to address it before it happens, rather than just throwing police at problems after they happen," City Manager Charles P. "Chip" Boyles said.

Rapid growth is one such stress point; so are pockets of poverty in that area. And demands on the local police force are rising. The community had 5,500 service calls last year, more than most areas of Carroll County.

Maryland is the first state tapped by the U.S. Justice Department for the HotSpot Communities crime-prevention initiative. The state has designated 36 areas for potential funding of programs, which will vary according to local needs and conditions. The grants will range from $35,000 to $200,000.

Despite the grants and the active promotion by the Justice Department, communities have been reluctant to identify themselves as deserving of "crime hot spot" money.

Mr. Brown initially denied that any places in Carroll County could even be considered, before learning that Taneytown had previously sought other crime-fighting grants.

Taneytown expects to learn from the experiences of similar communities that have tried prevention programs.

The effort focuses on community-based prevention, with job training and after-school programs, for instance, rather than simply increasing police presence. Areas that are selected will have access to resources of various state agencies that are working with the HotSpot program.

While the town's more immediate needs may focus on financing an $8 million sewer plant expansion, growing Taneytown can benefit from the anti-crime grant to cool down potential hot spots before they flare up.

Pub Date: 3/26/97

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