After a year of increased foot patrols in crime-plagued communities, the Harford County Sheriff's Office is taking its community policing program a step farther to a team concept, authorities said.
Last year's goal was to help reduce criminal activity and establish rapport between deputies and residents of communities where crime was on the rise.
In Team Community Policing, deputies will expand their efforts and specialize in solving problems specific to a particular community, said Dfc. DeWayne Curry, spokesman for the sheriff's office.
Nightly vandalism, for example, may be a major problem in one area while daytime burglaries are a bigger concern elsewhere.
Parental awareness may combat much of the vandalism in the first instance and programs teaching fundamental home security may curtail burglaries in the second.
Funded by a three-year $100,000 federal grant, the new program will focus on the Aberdeen, Edgewood, Joppa and Bel Air areas.
But Deputy Curry would not discuss which specific communities would initially benefit from Team Community Policing.
"We don't want to be more specific with the details until the assignments are completed for each of the five teams," he said.
Deputy Curry did say that 54 deputies will form five teams and work overtime in neighborhoods in an intensive effort to discourage crime and curb drug abuse.
The goal is to create a partnership between community residents, county government, sheriff's deputies, community management and business leaders to improve the quality of life within neighborhoods, Sheriff Robert E. Comes said last week.
By helping to reduce crime, the teams can then begin to encourage self-supportive attitudes among residents.
Through cooperative community efforts, residents could develop their own programs to help keep criminals from returning to theirneighborhoods.
The first step -- the foot patrol program -- appeared to be vTC successful last year, especially in the Edgewood area where a storefront Community Policing Center was opened in the Edgewater Village Shopping Center.
In December some residents said the fear that had been keeping them off the streets after dark was lessening.
Where drug dealers openly peddled marijuana and cocaine on the streets of Meadowood and the Edgewater Village Apartment complex, deputies on foot patrol were frequently evident and the streets seemed safer.
It just wasn't safe to go outside at night or come to the shopping centers, said one Sunrise East resident. "You can feel safe again in the neighborhood."