Thursday, November 20, 2008

Citizens associations planning ‘crime summit' -Gazette

Sunday meeting would launch series of monthly discussions in advance of spring forum

by Jason Tomassini | Staff Writer

A group of 12 Silver Spring citizens associations have begun planning a "crime summit" to address recent crime increases in their neighborhoods.

The event will be sponsored and planned primarily by Prezco, an umbrella group of several civic associations in Silver Spring. Tony Hausner of Prezco and the Indian Spring Civic Association said his neighborhood is concerned about the random shooting of a resident in July and increases in thefts from automobiles and home burglaries.

Other organizations within Prezco echoed the concerns at a September meeting and the group decided a joint effort was necessary.

Hausner said the summit would include a series of planning meetings that would culminate in a one-day event. At that event, panels of speakers would address residents on crime issues and then groups of residents would work with officials to develop plans of action for specific areas.

The summit wouldn't actually be held until the spring but the first planning meeting will be 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Saint Luke Lutheran Church at 9100 Colesville Road in Silver Spring, with monthly meetings to follow. The first meeting will focus on ways to address specific crimes and how to obtain useful crime statistics.

At a Silver Spring Advisory Board Neighborhoods Committee meeting Monday, Hausner asked for the support of several community organizations to serve as sponsors for the event. The Advisory Board is serving as a sponsor.

Hausner said the idea for the summit began before the Nov. 1 shooting death of Montgomery Blair High School student Tai Lam on a Ride On bus, but responding to that incident and gang issues in Silver Spring would be a top priority. Lam was allegedly killed by members of the MS-13 gang.

"The murder of Tai Lam clearly has just heightened it," Hausner said, adding that as the summit is being planned, there will be interim efforts to support Blair. "… We've had significant increases in home burglaries, lots of cars broken into [and] thefts from vehicles. All of these things are at the forefront of our concerns."

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