Justice Block Grant funds will help fight crime in target areas

Extra patrols are aimed at reducing number of burglaries, robberies

February 13, 2000|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

County police are planning to send additional patrols to targeted neighborhoods where burglaries, robberies and other street crimes have become commonplace and have generated fear among residents.

The patrols, part of the department's Street Crimes Reduction Program, are being paid for with $74,745 from the U.S. Department of Justice Block Grant Program. Howard County received $158,899 in federal funds and county officials chipped in another $17,100 for the police, state's attorney, sheriff's department and corrections anti-crime efforts.

The start date and specific neighborhoods that the patrols will cover has not been determined, said police spokesman Sgt. John Superson, but well-known trouble spots include the Route 1 corridor where street robberies often occur and some Ellicott City neighborhoods hit by nighttime burglaries.

About half of the grant money will pay overtime to uniformed patrol officers and detectives who will staff the increased patrols, said researcher Tami Bulla of the department's Planning and Research unit, which coordinated the grant proposal. The other half of the money will pay for new equipment, such as night-vision goggles, that will allow detectives to better track suspects.

According to the grant proposal sent to the Justice Department, police officials will analyze crime statistics daily to pinpoint which neighborhoods have crime problems. The Street Crimes Reduction Program also will use undercover officers to watch businesses or areas that they have determined could be likely targets.

Top-ranking police officials, including Chief Wayne Livesay, would not comment on the program or specific crime problems. But data show robberies, burglaries and auto thefts rose during the first three months of 1999 compared with the same period in 1998.

The increased demand for detectives to investigate and make arrests has put a strain on the department, according to the grant proposal, and weakened its ability to keep track of crime patterns. And "as a result, have threatened the Department's ability to maintain a safe community," the grant proposal said.

The Street Crime Reduction Program is meant to be a "proactive approach" to crime fighting, according to the proposal. In neighborhoods where police officials decide to use "zero tolerance" methods, community meetings will be held to explain the new police activity.

Other anti-crime programs paid for by the block grant are:

$8,000 for interview monitoring equipment at the County Child Advocacy Center.

$7,600 for a breath alcohol testing program at the county detention center.

$35,599 for staff and equipment for the Sheriff's Department domestic violence unit.

$11,185 for additional training for state's attorneys in courtroom presentation.

$18,080 toward surveillance equipment to monitor doorways and interior hallways at Glenelg High School.

$2,500 to the Not My Kid program for printing of brochures on underage drinking.

$7,850 for a Web site and newsletter for the non-profit community group of Howard County Drug Free.

$5,440 for a calendar of crime prevention tips for senior citizens.

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