Harper's Choice discusses location, projects for HotSpot; After-school program, three sites proposed for anti-crime effort


During a session with Howard County police last night, Harper's Choice residents recommended where the county should locate its next HotSpot office and discussed programs for it.

HotSpots are a crime prevention tool financed with state and local money and staffed by a police officer. Officials named Harper's Choice as the site for Howard's second HotSpot last month. One exists in Long Reach.

Representatives from the county state's attorney's office, the department of Juvenile Justice and Harper's Choice Middle School and 50 residents attended. County officials must submit their proposal to the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention by Sept. 28 to be approved for funding.

During the meeting, several successful HotSpot programs in place at Long Reach were promoted for inclusion at the Harper's Choice location. They included after-school programs and having the state's attorney's office assign a prosecutor to the satellite office to work with police.

Neighbors said they wanted the HotSpot to help them get better lighting in the community and deal with loitering on bike paths.

Harper's Choice Middle School Principal Anthony Harold -- assigned to lead after-school programs -- said he wanted after-school art groups, student mentoring and parenting seminars for the office.

Harold said, "My goal is to fund as many of those things as possible."

The biggest difference between the HotSpot in Long Reach and the one planned for Harper's Choice will be size.

Programs at Long Reach cover 11 neighborhood streets, but the one proposed for Harper's Choice would include 42 streets, said Capt. Michael Kessler, commander of the county's southern district.

Some residents recommended a site next to Florence Baine Senior Center, Safeway or a separate mobile unit near Harper's Choice Village Center.

The most recent robbery at the village center occurred Aug. 20 when two customers were accosted while leaving Papa John's pizza restaurant. Eight months ago, Harper's Choice was the site of a robbery in which a pizza delivery woman was shot outside an apartment complex.

During a 24-hour stretch a year ago, two Columbia residents were shot near the village center.

Pub Date: 9/14/99

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