County Force Could Be Launched In July 1993

Panel Begins Study Of Plan To Replace State Troopers

March 08, 1992|By Brian Sullam | Brian Sullam,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — The first employees of a new county police force would be hired by July 1, 1993, if Carroll's commissioners agree with a plan presented Wednesday to the committee studying the issue.

But the first hiringcould also be delayed if the county's Resident Trooper Program continues, the committee indicated at its Wednesday meeting.

"We want to see some state commitment for the Resident Trooper Program," said Morris Krome, a retired state police major who chairs the committee.

"We don't want to see it continue in limbo as it is now."

The Resident Trooper Program, which was created in 1974, consists of 43 state troopers who provide the bulk of the law enforcementfor Carroll.

The county government pays for the bulk of the cost,but the state also will contribute about $220,000 this year.

Because of the state's fiscal crisis, the state contribution was reduced by about $300,000, and county officials believe the Resident Trooper Program is vulnerable to further cuts.

Members of the committee believe the time has come to seriously consider forming a county policeforce.

Members of the study committee said that if the county commissioners decide to go ahead with the creation of a police force, its development should coincide with the phase out of the Residential Trooper Program.

Even if the state government makes a commitment tocontinue the Resident Trooper program, members of the committee don't see it continuing for more than another five years.

For the coming fiscal year, the committee said the county will have to pay about $3.1 million for its share of the Residential Trooper Program.

Members of the committee said they assume Carroll will have to create its own police force at some point during this decade.

Should the commissioners decide to create the police force, the study committee said a year should be devoted to planning.

A planner could be hired on a contract basis and the cost would be minimal.

However, once officers are placed on the payroll, the costs start to escalate.

Lt. Kenneth L. Tregoning, commander of the Maryland State Police Westminster barracks, presented figures showing the cost of the Resident Trooper Program dropping from $3.1 million in the fiscal year that begins this July to $500,000 in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 1996.

Financial projections presented at the meeting indicate the county would have to spend about $11 million between now and 1997 on its own police force to replace the troopers.

Committee members cautioned that the costs of medical and retirement benefits would likely push the cost of a county police force much higher.

Other costs such,as a headquarters building, automobiles, equipment and a police dog,were included as well.

In an effort to hold down costs, the committee proposed having a fleet of 25 police vehicles that would be in operation 24 hours a day.

Other major costs are building a headquarters and purchasing the necessary telecommunications, data processingand other equipment.

Members of the committee said they would like to see as much planning and organizing done before people are actually put on the payroll.

Under the current plan, the new departmentwould start with four people -- a chief, two lieutenants and a secretary.

But, within four years, the force would expand to 67 sworn officers and 11 support personnel.

This the fifth committee during the past 20 years to look at the question of creating a countywide police force.

The committee is schedule to have its report ready forthe commissioners by April 1.

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