Drug money to aid police

September 23, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

The Baltimore County Council has unanimously approved TTC using $336,000 confiscated from drug dealers to modernize the county police air force and give undercover officers more equipment, cars and money.

Also at its Monday night meeting, the council renewed the county's 4 percent cap on property assessment increases for another year. Because of the cap, the county collected $15 million less from the property tax this fiscal year than if it had no assessment cap, said county Budget Director Fred Homan.

If the county had the state-mandated 10 percent cap, it would have collected $2 million to $3 million more in revenues. The 4 percent cap, the lowest in the state, has been in place since 1990.

The county will use the money confiscated from drug dealers to replace the 1965 Cessna an officer donated to the department in 1983. The plane is outdated and worn out, police said. The council voted to buy a new fixed-wing, single-engine plane for $130,000.

In addition, the county will spend $51,000 for the first year of a five-year lease on a new two-seat helicopter. The police department already has a 25-year-old Army helicopter bought for $5,000 in 1989. The helicopters are used in drug surveillance operations.

Another $41,000 will pay for an airplane hangar at Strawberry Point, which will replace the space the department now rents at Martin State Airport. The rest of the money will provide undercover narcotics detectives with rental cars, apartments, telephones and eavesdropping equipment for their investigations, said Chief Cornelius J. Behan.

The money is the county's share of cash and proceeds obtained from the sale of valuables seized during joint federal and county drug investigations.

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