WESTMINSTER — At least one member of the Carroll County Police Force Study Committee has doubts about recommending that the commissioners immediately embark on a program to develop a countywide police force.
Carroll County State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman said it would be much more efficient for the county to rely on the 43 resident
state troopers as long as it can rather than develop its own police force.
"I have heard that the Maryland State Police have said, 'As long as Carroll County pays the bill, we'll supply the troopers,'" said Hickman at the study committee's Wednesday meeting.
The county has a contract with Maryland State Police to provide 43 residenttroopers. The county pays the $3 million annual cost.
He also said the committee should not commit itself to a recommendation for a countywide police force without carefully considering projected costs. He said that Howard County spends $18 million annually on its police force although its population is only slightly larger than Carroll's.
Hickman insisted the county commissioners focus their efforts on getting the state to make a commitment to continue the resident trooper program.
Not all of the members agreed with his assessment, however.
"The reality is that the county can't depend on the residenttroopers program for its police force," said District Judge Donald Smith. "It is unusual to think that somewhere down the road it isn't going to change."
Smith said that the state's prospects of continuing the resident trooper program indefinitely are remote, given the state's precarious financial condition.
Morris L. Krome, the retiredMaryland State Police official who heads the task force, agreed withSmith and offered to include language in the report calling for the commissioners to obtain an extended commitment from the state to continue the resident trooper program.
He agreed with Hickman's contention that a county police force would not be as cost-efficient as thetroopers.
Hickman also said that with a countywide police force, the state police would cease to be an effective part of "the county'scrime-fighting effort."
But Krome disagreed, pointing out that several other Maryland counties have developed effective arrangements enabling county police and state troopers to work side by side.
"It's the county's call," said Krome. "Let the county make its own call and set the course. The county has to take control of its destiny in terms of its police force."