Troopers, their morale low, write fewer traffic citations

May 29, 1992

Maryland State Police officials are blaming morale problems for a sharp drop in traffic citations after budget cuts that closed two barracks last winter and eliminated special privileges and benefits for troopers.

State police issued 389,874 traffic citations last year, 8,834 fewer than in the year before.

In November, immediately after the closings of the Security and College Park barracks, citations for the month dipped to 29,722, nearly 5,000 less than for the same month in 1990.

State police officials say disgruntled troopers wrote fewer tickets in the wake of budget cuts that closed the barracks and resulted in the firing of administrative and clerical personnel who had worked there. For a time, it looked as if some veteran troopers would be fired as well, but layoffs were averted when a class of recruits was dismissed.

The cuts also led to reductions in overtime pay and perks.

In a move aimed at bolstering morale and improving its public image, the agency is to be reorganized, according to Bishop L. Robinson, secretary of public safety and correctional services.

Mr. Robinson said the state police will expand their role in criminal investigations and civilians will be hired to perform some jobs. Meanwhile, studies are being conducted to determine whether the MedEvac system should be turned over to civilians, and people who use the service may be charged.

Civilians may also replace troopers now assigned to the department's Automotive Safety Enforcement Division and the troopers who serve as liaisons with the State Highway Administration's traffic management program.

Plans also call for curtailing the state police role in providing security for several other state agencies.

Mr. Robinson said he intends to actively assist Col. Larry W. Tolliver, recently named interim superintendent.

Colonel Tolliver yesterday named Maj. Lawrence Harmel acting chief of field operations, replacing Lt. Col. Roland Hayman. He also named Maj. Robert Thomas acting chief of the special operations bureau replacing Lt. Col. Gary Moore.

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