New Bulletproof Vests Would Fall Victim To Cuts, Sheriff Says

Countydetention Center Also Would Lose Cable Tv

March 15, 1992|By Brian Sullam | Brian Sullam,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — If the county commissioners insist on cutting his equipment budget, Sheriff John Brown said, he will not be able to replace the department's bulletproof vests as planned.

He will also have to eliminate the cable service the Carroll County Detention Center provides for inmates.

Brown had requested $13,500 to be spent on equipment for fiscal 1993, which begins July 1.

Of that sum, $10,000 would have been spent on new bulletproof vests.

County budget analysts have reduced the sum to $4,000.

The Sheriff's Department currently has about 25 vests that are more than a dozen years old.

They are designed to stop a .38-caliber bullet, but most police departments now use vests that stop a .45-caliber bullet.

"It is like sending men out wearingcardboard," Brown said. "These vests were supposed to be recertifiedby the manufacturer after five years of use, and they have never been recertified.

"I really don't want my men to have a false sense of security."

While admitting that none of his deputies has ever been shot, Brown said the vests are necessary safety equipment.

"It is just like life insurance," he said. "You hope you never have to collect on it, but you just have to have it."

All of the deputies who serve summons, assist Maryland State Police or provide court security must wear vests when on duty. Correctional personnel don't wear the vests, Brown said.

There are enough vests for the current staff,but any new members are going to have to purchase their own, Brown said.

He said the jail currently spends $600 to $700 annually on basic cable service for its eight TVs.

The jail has had cable service since 1985 because the commissioners were unwilling to spend several thousand dollars to install an $8,000 antenna to pick up televisionbroadcast signals, he said.

The basic service does not include any of the premium services, such as HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Playboy orpay-per-view channels.

Under federal and state guidelines, the detention center is obliged to provide recreational activities for the inmates, Brown said.

Inmates are also able to go to the library twice a week, use the downstairs gym or study for a general education degree.

"We have to give these men and women a certain amount of recreation," said Brown. "The days of the chain gangs are over.

"As I see it, the television is nothing more than a baby-sitter for adults."

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