SYKESVILLE — This South Carroll town on the Patapsco River is proud to call itself one of the more progressive municipalities in the county, if not the most.
It already has its own recycling center, recycling up to 30 percent of its trash, and its own Public Works Department, plus thelargest municipal police force outside of Westminster.
That's apparently not enough, however, for Police Chief Wallace P. Mitchell, who has been thinking for some time about starting an auxiliary police force to augment his four full-time officers.
"I'd been approached by some interested citizens and asked if I'd given theidea any thought," he said. "I had, and I always thought it was a good idea.
"You have a lot of people interested in volunteering their services, and there's a lot of expertise you can draw from. Especially today, it's a great asset to have them available," Mitchell said.
The all-volunteer force would receive no compensation for its time, would not carry weapons or have any police powers, such as arresting people.
The auxiliary would be trained by members of Sykesville's police department and be provided with uniforms, equipment and identification, Mitchell said.
"The auxiliary would be there strictlyto assist members of the police in traffic control for serious accidents and major events, emergencies where we need additional manpower,at crime scenes and just with any experience they have," he said.
He stressed that the auxiliary would not take the place of the regular police officers' coverage of the town.
The volunteers would be covered by town rules, regulations and procedures, Mitchell added, and would be dismissed if they did anything to discredit the town. Officials are checking to see if auxiliary police members would be covered by the town's liability insurance.
The police chief told the Town Council Monday night he would present a draft proposal for formation of the unit at the March 9 meeting, since it has to be included in the town charter.
Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. said the council could pass the auxiliary by ordinance until a revised charter can be passed.
Cost to the town, Mitchell said, would be minimal since the police already have equipment on hand and several members who are certified instructors.
Mitchell said he got some help in the initial planning from Westminster City Police Chief Sam Leppo, who oversees a 26-member auxiliary police force.
"We use our auxiliary almost year-round," Leppo said. "We'd be hard pressed to have some of the events wehave if it weren't for them."
Leppo said the auxiliary saves the city money at crowd-drawing events by manning intersections where thecity otherwise would have to place a regular officer on overtime pay.
Mitchell's auxiliary also would be separate from the county's fire-police force, which is made up mostly of volunteer fire departmentmembers working under the direction of the Carroll County Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff John Brown said any town or organization wishing to use the fire-police at an event must go through his office for approval.
Although Sykesville is a relatively quiet town, it has acouple of big events, like the fall festival, where extra traffic and crowd control is needed.
Mitchell wants to start his auxiliary force with at least six or eight people. Members need not live in the town limits to join. Anyone interested can call Mitchell at 795-0757.