County Police Study Launched Again

January 26, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

At times Wednesday evening, nine of the county's top law enforcementofficials acted like a group of college students berating their teachers for giving them too much work to do in too little time.

"I don't see any way we can get this together by April," said Westminster Police Chief Sam R. Leppo. "It's impossible to put any police force on line by July, anyway."

The group of nine -- including the state's attorney, sheriffs past and present, three police chiefs, a District Court judge and a state police lieutenant -- were asked by the county commissioners to meetevery week until April to come up with yet another set of recommendations on the future of police protection in Carroll.

"This issue has been beaten to death," said Morris Krome, the retired state policemajor who became the committee's chairman 15 minutes before Wednesday's meeting. "We should be able to draw easily on the work that's been done before."

The most recent study of police protection was completed in May 1990. And at least five other studies of the Sheriff's Department and its role in county law enforcement have been completedsince 1974, when Carroll began participating in the state police's Resident Trooper program.

The uncertainty of that program's future prompted the study committee. Until this fiscal year, the state picked up a fourth of the $3 million annual cost of the resident troopers.During the fiscal year that begins July 1, the state is not expectedto contribute to the program's budget.

The committee is to look at that problem and tell the commissioners whether to pay for the resident troopers or start a county force from scratch.

For more than two hours in the smoke-filled conference room in the back of the sheriff's office, the committee discussed salaries, benefits, deadlines and staffing levels of a county-run police force.

And while they came up with no conclusions Wednesday -- it was their second meeting --they did urge the commissioners to pay for the resident troopers through at least fiscal 1993.

"The local county government should decide how long they'll remain committed to a resident trooper program,"said state police Lt. Kenneth L. Tregoning, commander of the Westminster barracks.

"We need a time frame, and not this guesswork from year to year. It's stupid."

The committee, which split into groupslooking at the financial and logistical aspects of a police force, commissioned a $2,000 study into possible retirement systems for a police force. It decided on a pay scale based on a starting salary of $23,500.

The committee meets again Wednesday at the sheriff's officeon Court Street in Westminster.

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