A terse memo issued by Baltimore County Sheriff Norman M. Pepersack Jr. appears to end his effort to get permission for sheriff's deputies to respond to police emergencies.
The memo, dated Jan. 7, tells deputies that their duties are restricted to court security, prisoner transportation, process-serving, running the county detention center and providing security for county courts.
"Incidents that are of a nature different than those mentioned above, will result in Deputy Sheriffs notifying the appropriate agency via radio. This is the only action that will take place," the memo concluded.
Mr. Pepersack refused to comment on the memo.
Mr. Pepersack was unable to persuade County Executive Roger B. Hayden to allow the deputies to respond to emergencies.
Mr. Hayden received an opinion from the county Law Department that said that the deputies would not be covered by the county's liability insurance if they responded to emergencies, said the county administrative officer, Merreen E. Kelly.
Consequently, Mr. Kelly said that he directed Mr. Pepersack to confine his deputies to the four tasks listed in the sheriff's memo.
Following his election in 1990, Mr. Pepersack advocated a more active law enforcement role for his deputies. He obtained surplus county police cars for the deputies' use. But Mr. Hayden rejected the sheriff's request for money to purchase bullet-resistant vests for the deputies and to equip the deputies' cars with emergency lights and sirens.
Mr. Hayden rejected the requests after the county Law FTC Department issued an opinion saying the sheriffs' cars were not emergency vehicles.
Police Chief Cornelius J. Behan has said that he would like the deputies to continue improving their role in transporting prisoners.
Mr. Behan said that police officers now transport prisoners when the deputies are too busy to do it. Police transported 178 prisoners to court from the detention center in one two-week period in November, for example.
Mr. Behan has also said that allowing deputies to respond to police emergencies would increase the risk of injuries. The sheriff's memo seems to end the turf battle between sheriff and the police.