The Neighborhoods Uniting Project (NUP) of Prince George's County has built a reputation over the last 10 years as a determined and often successful lobbying group for local political causes. Now the NUP forces will turn their energies to a new project - fight against crime.
NUP, an umbrella organization for a 12-town area inside the Beltway, will conduct an extensive neighborhood campaign against crime with a $131,000 grant from the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, said its president, Cora Wood of Colmar Manor.
"We've been worried about crime for a long time," Wood said. "Now we're going to do something about it."
The group's first task, Wood said, will be to form Citizen Crime Prevention Action Coalition in each of the 12 northwestern county towns in the NUP area. "Organization is the key," Wood said. "We have to develop an alertness in all our communities so that people will be aware of what they can do to help prevent crime."
Wood said NUP hopes to lower the incidence of juvenile crime by "offering better alternatives," including the neighborhood recreation programs and summer job assistance for area youths.
NUP will work with another community group, Betterment for United Seniors, on the problems that crime presents for the elderly. "Older citizens are afraid to go out by themselves," Wood said. "We want them to feel safer." The two groups will provide transportation for senior citizens. In addition, they will lobby for better security at apartment complexes, which house many of the area's elderly.
The anticrime campaign will last for 18 months and "reach into every neighborhood," Wood said. That effort will include extensive mailings and phone call drivers to alert area residents to NUP's crime prevention campaign.
This will not be NUP's first major crusade. In the last two years alone, the group has taken credit for causing a reduction in the Prince George's County tax rate, for getting scooter patrols, for having funds released for park regulations and for forcing a reduction in the utilities rate increase.
Recently, NUP participated in a successful drive to keep open five neighborhood pools in East Riverdale, Lakeland, Colmar Manor, North Brentwood and Chillum. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission was going to close the pools because of their age and operating cost.
It was an uphill battle, said NUP member Linda Ross of Rogers Heights, but NUP is used to uphill battles. "We've had to fight for everything we get in this part of the county," Ross said. "Now we're going to fight to get rid of something - crime."