Agencies receive anti-crime grants Westminster police get $108,000 of $234,109 from state, federal sources


Law enforcement and other agencies in Carroll County will receive $234,109 in state and federal grants to combat drug trafficking and domestic violence, authorities said yesterday.

The Westminster Police Department will receive the biggest share: three grants totaling $108,000.

Others receiving grants are the State's Attorney's Office; Hampstead Police Department; Family and Children's Services, a Taneytown youth initiative; and Residents Attacking Drugs, a citizens group that formed after the overdose death in January of Liam O'Hara, 15, a Westminster High School sophomore.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, chairwoman of the Governor's Cabinet Council on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, announced the grants.

The awarding of the grants came nearly four months after Townsend unveiled the state's 19-point Heroin Action Plan in Westminster. Intensified enforcement, including increased surveillance of suspicious drug activity, was among the recommendations.

The overdose death of the Westminster student, more than any other incident, prompted law enforcement, prosecutors, school officials, parents and students, and county and private organizations in Carroll to join to fight the spread of drugs, especially heroin.

Among Westminster's grants, nearly $69,000 will be used to expand the narcotics unit with the addition of an entry-level officer, vehicle and equipment.

Lt. Dean Brewer, a police spokesman, said an extra officer in the narcotics unit would enhance the department's ability to cooperate with the state's attorney's office in seeking more jail time for subsequent offenders.

A $28,000 grant will enable officers to visit homes of victims of domestic violence as part of its First Step program, and about $10,500 will be used to train citizens to educate the community on safety and crime prevention.

In a statement, Chief Sam Leppo said the grants will enable his department to increase drug surveillance and continue its volunteer crime prevention program, Stop Crime on Residential Environment, which assists residents with nonemergency calls.

State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes formed a special domestic violence unit using grant money received last year. The grant enabled him to team a prosecutor with an investigator and a victim witness coordinator to handle all spousal abuse cases. A nearly $52,000 grant will continue that effort for another year, Barnes said.

"So far, our success in obtaining grant money has saved taxpayers about $100,000 and we definitely will submit an application for a grant to continue the domestic violence unit next year," he said.

The Hampstead Police Department will receive nearly $25,000 toward the purchase of a dog trained to detect drugs, a vehicle to carry the dog and other equipment.

Chief Kenneth Meekins said that grant -- along with pledges of $5,000 from Hampstead, $500 from Manchester, $1,000 from Barnes and $800 from business and private donations -- enabled his department to begin selecting a suitable dog for training.

Meekins said the Baltimore County Police Department has agreed to assist in selecting and training the dog. He said Officer Phillip Kasten has volunteered to be the dog's handler.

"We hope to have purchased a suitable dog and begin the training process in September," Meekins said. "We still need additional funds from business owners and community members to cover our share of the expenses, some of which are one-time costs associated with starting a K-9 unit."

Family and Children's Services will receive two $5,000 grants, one to provide legal representation for victims seeking protective orders and one to study effectiveness of domestic violence programs.

Townsend also announced that more than $37,000 will go to Taneytown's Anti-Crime Initiative, part of the state's HotSpot Communities Initiative begun last July. More than $25,000 of the grant will be used for prevention programs for youngsters, including continuing an after-school program at Northwest Middle.

"We have been able to reach young students who are headed down the wrong path -- and turn them around," Mayor W. Robert Flickinger said in a statement.

Residents Attacking Drugs will receive more than $2,600 for promotion of its Heroin Kills Awareness campaign.

Pub Date: 7/28/98

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