Sheriff’s of­fice holds crime watch kick-off

Cit­i­zens learn safety tips, speak with local law en­force­ment

Maryland Independent - - News - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­

Scores of com­mu­nity mem­bers and po­lice of­fi­cers gath­ered last Wednesday night for the Charles County Sheriff’s Of­fice’s an­nual crime watch kick­off event at the Amer­i­can Le­gion Harry White Wilmer Post 82 in La Plata.

This year’s event fea­tured guest speaker Ray­mond Hanna, a pro­tec­tive se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor with the U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and a for­mer Se­cret Ser­vice agent, who dis­cussed what to do in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion and of­fered tips on how to ef­fec­tively re­port crime to law en­force­ment.

Sheriff Troy Berry (D) and State’s At­tor­ney An­thony Cov­ing­ton (D) were also in at­ten­dance, talk­ing to cit­i­zens around the room and de­liv­er­ing re­marks be­fore Hanna’s pre­sen­ta­tion.

“We can­not fight crime in a vac­uum. It’s a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort,” Berry said. “We need the cit­i­zens, we need the state’s at­tor­ney on board, we need our al­lied law en­force­ment agen­cies … to help us fight crime in this com­mu­nity.”

Berry thanked the au­di­ence for be­ing in­volved in keep­ing their neigh­bor­hoods safe and noted that this ap­peared to be the event’s largest turnout yet. He also ac­knowl­edged grad­u­ates of the in­au­gu­ral class of the sheriff’s of­fice’s Citizen’s Po­lice Academy, a 10-week course that pro­vides real po­lice train­ing, and an­nounced that the agency is ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for the class be­gin­ning in Septem­ber.

Cov­ing­ton, too, spoke of the ben­e­fits of an in­volved cit­i­zenry.

“Crime pre­ven­tion begins in the com­mu­nity. It al­ways does,” he said. “… I think the large turnout is a re­flec­tion of the sheriff’s lead­er­ship, and also all his deputies who are out there on the street ev­ery­day, do­ing the great outreach that they do.”

Among those in the au­di­ence was Ericka Wiggs, the home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent of the High Grove com­mu­nity in White Plains, who said she at­tended to learn from the pre­sen­ta­tion, but also to talk to sheriff’s of­fice staff about how she and her neigh­bors can es­tab­lish a crime watch pro­gram for their neigh­bor­hood.

“I’m quick to call 911 or [the sheriff’s of­fice] if ever I see some­thing go­ing on,” she said. “But I just re­ally want to bring aware­ness, and hope­fully en­cour­age my neigh­bors to call if they see some­thing.”

In cre­at­ing a neigh­bor­hood watch pro­gram, she said hopes to pre­vent crime be­fore it can take root.

“I think Tony Cov­ing­ton and Troy Berry are do­ing a re­ally good job,” Wiggs added. “I think we have a re­ally great fleet of of­fi­cers here in Charles County ... I know a lot of po­lice of­fi­cers around the coun­try are get­ting a bad rap, but I think we’re the ex­cep­tion.”

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