By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

There are a couple of Hot Spots in Calvert and St. Mary's counties. These aren't the kind that you might find being advertised in this media as someplace "In" to go on a Saturday night. Quite the contrary. These are two high crime areas in our region: Chesapeake Ranch Estates and Lexington Park.

The two Hot Spot Communities are part of the first statewide initiative in the nation "to systematically assist high crime and at-risk neighborhoods in implementing comprehensive enforcement and prevention strategies, including increased presence of police and probation agents, nuisance abatement actions, youth violence and drug prevention program and citizen activities to reclaim public space," according to Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in a letter to me dated June 20. Folks who live in Chesapeake Ranch Estates and Lexington Park shouldn't be unduly alarmed be being chosen Hot Spots.. But it is a recognition that the two communities are population centers, and with population comes crime. The extra infusion of money into those communities for crime prevention and enforcement should make them safer places to live. I was pleased to attend the press conference on July 1 in Annapolis in which Lt. Gov. Townsend formally launched the program in Chesapeake Ranch Estates, Lexington Park and 34 other communities in Maryland. Information about crime and the plan to attack it for each of the communities was presented. I thought you would be interested in what they had to say about our local community.

The safety concerns in Chesapeake Ranch Estates are vandalism, loitering and destruction of property. In 1996 there were eight violent crimes in the community and 214 other crimes. There are 63 adults and 32 juveniles in the community under supervision for having been convicted of committing crimes.

A total of $37,900 in grants will be awarded in Chesapeake Ranch Estates. The program is divided in five parts: community mobilization, community policing, community probation, youth prevention and community support for addiction recovery. The programs include: neighborhood patrols; a community newspaper; equipment and overtime for the community police officer; Maryland State Police mapping and intelligence support; training, technical assistance and equipment for adult, juvenile and federal probation officers and residents and service providers; development of a youth center and activities, and assistance to 12 step addiction recovery groups.

The safety concerns in Lexington Park are drug transactions, vandalism and apparent evidence of gang activity. In 1996 there were 106 violent crimes and 796 other crimes in Lexington Park. There are 161 adults under parole or probation supervision and 41 juveniles.

A total of $173,300 is earmarked to Lexington Park under the program in six category areas: community mobilization, community policing, community probation, youth prevention, victim outreach and community support for addiction recovery. Programs include: supplies and equipment for Citizens on Patrol; overtime grant for police officers; public safety technology crime analysis enhancements; training, technical assistance, equipment and overtime for two adult agents and one juvenile agent; after-school programming for the Teen Center; continuation of the Youth Service Corps; victim assistance specialist in donated space at Patuxent Woods; and an addictions counselor at Walden/Sierra.

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. also addressed the subject of crime in a recent letter to me. He said he has taken an in-depth look at crime in the state. "This analysis led me to conclude that while in the short run we may need more police, prisons, and prosecutors, in the long run the only real answer is prevention, We need to stop kids at the earliest possible age from becoming our next generation of teenage and adult criminals," the attorney general said. I was pleased to see that much of the Hot Spot initiative recognizes that need.

Attorney General Curran feels that there are plenty of good ideas out there so there is no need to reinvent the wheel. "Rather, we need to share ideas about what works and what doesn't and we need to bring widespread attention to programs which are effective in order to garner public and private support, fiscal and otherwise, for more of such programs," he said.

So with that in mind Mr. Curran is looking for some good ideas. He's going to take the five best and include them in a report and also select them for an Attorney General Spotlight on Prevention Award. Recipients will be invited to a ceremony honoring their work on behalf of Maryland's children.

If you conduct a crime prevention program or know of one which you feel may be deserving of recognition contact my district office at 301-994-2826 and we'll pass it along to the attorney general as our nomination for an award.

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]