With state money for the county's Resident Trooper Program likely todisappear by July, Commissioner President Donald I. Dell has been suggesting that this is the time for Carroll to create its own police force.
"In the back of my mind, it seems to me that if we're funding something, we ought to have some control over it," he said Thursdaymorning to the first meeting of the County Police Study Committee. "The safety of our citizens is a big obligation."
And if a comparison of police salaries statewide is any indication, it is a big obligation.
Salary data collected by the Maryland State Police in July shows the average annual pay for troopers ranges from $24,555 to $37,710. The study also showed that salaries in majorMaryland police organizations range from $20,113 for a beginning officer in the Harford County Sheriff's Office to $58,000 for lieutenants in the Baltimore City Police Department.
Should a police force be formed here with such salaries, it would make Carroll law enforcement officers among the county's highest-paid employees.
The commissioners have asked the committee to look at all costs associated with police protection. Currently, 45 state police troopers make up the county's $2.5 million-a-year Resident Trooper Program. While the state pays for less than 25 percent of the total cost now, the county is expected to have to pay fiscal 1993's entire $3 million cost itself.
On Thursday, Dell committed the county to financing the program for at least 1993. But he also made it clear a county police force, usingresident troopers as a base, is an attractive option.
That option, however, could cost as much as $9 million, several members of the committee estimated Thursday morning.
The nine-member committee, appointed late last year, is expected to come up with recommendations in April on what form police protection in Carroll should take.
"It's obvious that state funding is going to go downhill, so we fully have to understand what we need to do," said Commissioner Julia W. Gouge. "It's very important that we don't jump into something."
The committee's first 90-minute meeting was marked by the absence of its chairman, District Judge Donald J. Smith. Smith, appointed committee chairman by the commissioners, apparently had not been told of the appointment until he was called halfway into the meeting.
The panel meets at 5 p.m. Wednesdays in the Sheriff's Office, Court Street, Westminster.