The number of state police detectives working drug cases in Anne Arundel will more than double under a new cooperative agreement between state and county police.
The agreement was signed at a news conference yesterday by County Executive Robert R. Neall, Anne Arundel Chief of Police Robert Russell, Anne Arundel State's Attorney Frank Weathersbee and Maryland State Police Superintendent Elmer H. Tippett.
Fifteen other county police agencies have agreements with the state police, but most of those are small departments with drug task forces working under state police supervision. Anne Arundel is the firstmajor metropolitan jurisdiction to agree formally to work with the state side by side on drug cases, said state police Lt. Col. Tom Carr,chief of the Bureau of Drug Enforcement.
The two agencies have worked together in the past, but without the specific guidelines provided by the agreement, Russell said.
Besides the advantages of sharing information, the cooperative arrangement benefits Anne Arundel by stepping up state police presence here. Instead of the current 11 state police detectives working drug cases, there now will be 24, Carr said. Federal grants are paying for the extra detectives, he said.
County police, meanwhile, will have priority over officers from otherjurisdictions who apply for state police-sponsored training programs.
The agreement was Neall's idea. The executive, who was the state's first drug czar under Gov. William Donald Schaefer, said he's beenlooking for ways to stem drug trafficking and the influx of drugs from other areas via major transportation networks.
"I've always been concerned about Anne Arundel County because it's the center of the state, it has a lot of shoreline, Amtrak trains, the airport and lotsand lots of interstate highway," Neall said.
The agreement puts special emphasis on drug "interdiction" -- interception of drugs as they come into the county by train, air, bus or other means.
Anne Arundel's year-old interdiction team will work with state police interdiction units to execute arrest and search warrants and perform investigations. Supervisors from both agencies must exchange information atleast once a week under the agreement.
Neall and Tippett said they expect to speed up investigations and save money -- though they arenot sure how much -- by having county and state drug officers work together.
Russell said he does not believe Anne Arundel's drug problem is getting worse. "But there are certain pockets of the county, just as there are certain pockets of any big city, where the drug problem is just as bad as it's ever been," he said.
Forty-two percent of the cases prosecuted in Anne Arundel Circuit Court last year involved drug charges, Weathersbee said. About 80 percent of last year's cases prosecuted in Circuit Court involved drugs in some way.