Anne Arundel County officials and the Maryland State Police today signed an agreement to collaborate on drug enforcement, a move intended to pool investigative resources at a time when budgets are tight.
The agreement between the state and county police involves joint investigations, training, lab studies and other support functions.
The emphasis will be on interdiction efforts against the transport of drugs by aircraft, buses, trains and boats, as well as through hotels and motels.
State Police Superintendent Elmer H. Tippett said the agreement with Anne Arundel was needed because the county is more susceptible to the flow of drug traffic than other jurisdictions because Anne Arundel has an international airport, an Amtrak corridor, interstate highways and an extensive coastline.
Lt. Col. Tom Carr, chief of drug enforcement for the State Police, said his agency has agreements with 16 Maryland counties but the pacts differ from the "memorandum of understanding" signed today with Anne Arundel County.
The other agreements are task force arrangements, in which local police contribute to task force drug investigations headed by the State Police.
Carr said that Anne Arundel police will trade information and collaborate with State Police but without coming under their command for special investigations.
Carr said he hopes to sign similar agreements with other large metropolitan jurisdictions.
One result of the agreement, Carr said, will be additional State Police detectives working on drug cases in Anne Arundel.
Their number will increase from 11 to 24, he said. The cost of their salaries will be borne by drug enforcement grants from the federal government.
County Executive Robert R. Neall approached the State Police with the idea for an agreement on collaboration.
He said he recalled from his previous job as chairman of the Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention that drug investigations at different levels of government sometimes paralleled each other.
With the budgets of the State Police and the Anne Arundel Police suffering cuts, the agreement "enables us to maintain a comprehensive investigative effort," Neall said. "It's trying to find other ways to do the same job."
Officials did not have estimates of specific cost savings.
County Police Chief Robert Russell said his department was already cooperating with the State Police, but that the agreement puts the understanding in formal terms.
Anne Arundel County conducts about 200 drug investigations a year. Since the county police Interdiction Unit was formed in November 1990, it has recovered $350,265 worth of illegal drugs and $63,142 in currency, officials said.