Sheriff’s office holds crime watch kick-off
Citizens learn safety tips, speak with local law enforcement
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.”