By Louise Rogers-Feher
It's not too early to make an important New Year's resolution. Why not look into joining an organization that will be helpful to your business and the community you serve?
The Police and Community Relations Council could be just what you're looking for next year.
Police and Community Relations Council members come from all the groups that compose a community: police officers, clergy, community leaders, social workers, educators, business people and interested citizens. Their goal is to make county neighborhoods a safe place for everyone.
The council also acts as a liaison between residents, businesses, local government and the county police department. All 10 police precincts in Baltimore County have chapters to help advise residents about the crime-prevention programs available through the department.
In addition, the Police Community Relations Council is an excellent networking tool for small business owners as well as large corporations that have branch offices in the county, according Fred Porcella, president of the executive council.
Often, businesses face some crime or security issues that managers and owners might think are limited to their particular sections of the county or types of business. When they attend council meetings, however, they find that the problems could be part of the trend -- one that would not have been recognized as such had they not talked to each other.
Their information is then given to the police to see if there is, indeed, a trend.
Council members raise funds throughout the year to purchase equipment and supplies that local officers need.
Every month, police officers are recognized for their performance by the local chapters of the Police Community Relations Council, and there are special presentations held for outstanding officers at the end of the year.
And some things are available to council members only. They include the ride- along program, which allows private citizens to witness police activities and to get to know the precinct officers on a personal level.
Another benefit is the training that is offered to members, who are taught to be active in their approaches to crime prevention. For example, they learn what they can do to help keep their communities safe from terrorists.
In council meetings, you'll also learn about gang-related issues and how to recognize gang colors and conduct, including activities you might not associate with gangs.
Dues are minimal -- just enough to cover each chapter's administrative needs.
Another business organization, the Hunt Valley Business Forum, is active in the north-central part of the county, working with local police officers to deter crime.
Capt. J. Martin Lurz of the Cockeysville Precinct keeps members up to date by e-mail on crime trends and attends forum meetings to demonstrate the department's concern for residents and businessmen and women in the Hunt Valley area.
Reports of thefts from offices in this area are not uncommon. When office managers or employees report such thefts, the word goes out, alerting business owners and managers to take necessary precautions.
To learn more about the Police Community Relations Council, call Fred Porcella at 410-335-8981. To learn more about the Hunt Valley Business Forum, call its executive director, John Beever, at 410-771-5560 or go to www.hvbf.org.
Louise Rogers- Feher works in the media relations section of the Baltimore County Police Department. To reach the section, call 410-887-2210.