Police introduce Web site


Howard County residents who want to know how to keep burglars out of their homes, protect their cars from thieves or find out whether they've had too much to drink and shouldn't drive can connect to a police Web site for answers and other information about law enforcement.

Sgt. Paul Steppe, who heads the community services unit, launched the new site -- www.hcpd.org -- three weeks ago. Though under construction, the site is loaded with information about crime statistics, the department's philosophy on community policing, and its goals and values. Users also can download forms to request a police speaker for community meetings and permits for parades or other events.

"The chief wanted a community-oriented site that would be interactive, informative and could be used to recruit and educate the public," Steppe said.

Clicking on to the "Are you safe to drive?" icon brings up a form that asks a user to type in his or her weight, sex, type of drink, the number of drinks and the time frame. The quiz will roughly calculate blood-alcohol content, Steppe said.

The site also has information about officers killed in the line of duty, crime-prevention programs and home-security evaluations. Also included are senior citizen safety tips, business security advice and information on how to register bicycles with the Police Department.

The Web site has links to other sites, such as the Maryland Kids in Safety Seats Program.

Also, anyone interested in becoming a Howard County police officer can click on the recruitment icon to find information about the duties and qualifications of a police officer.

Steppe said he is working on the section of the site that will be geared to children.

"It will be aimed at 8- to 14-year-olds," he said. "I am going to survey some kids to find out what they are interested in."

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