More state troopers moved to law enforcement duties Tolliver also drops deputy position to promote state police efficiency

January 19, 1993|By Roger Twigg | Roger Twigg,Staff Writer

In a move he said was aimed at efficiency, Maryland Stat Police Superintendent Larry W. Tolliver announced today the reassignment of troopers from administrative to law enforcement duties and elimination of the position of deputy superintendent.

Colonel Tolliver also said he plans to eliminate or consolidate other units and divisions to streamline the agency -- including a reduction of its responsibilities in areas served by other large police departments, to avoid duplication.

During this calendar year, the state police also will give up policing Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the Port of Baltimore. The state Department of Transportation will police the airport, and the port will provide its own security.

About 88 percent of the State Police force's "sworn" law enforcement personnel are assigned to policing duties. Colonel Tolliver said some changes are planned to increase that percentage.

The agency has 1,685 authorized "sworn" law enforcement positions and 728 civilian jobs, but many of those positions are vacant through attrition and the agency has been unable to fill them because of budget cuts.

Criminal investigation work is to be expanded to include computer crimes, white-collar crimes, intelligence on "hate groups," carjackings, a witness-protection program, a high-risk warrant service unit and continued participation in 14 drug task forces in the state.

"I want the state police to be a well-rounded police department that will serve as a role model for other police agencies," Colonel Tolliver said. "Hopefully, we will be like the FBI for the state."

The state police will continue to emphasize highway traffic enforcement -- particularly targeting drunken driving -- on major state roads and interstate highways, rather than on local roadways, he said.

Colonel Tolliver said troopers on the road are going to be better trained to "make quality arrests" not only for traffic violations but criminal offenses such as drug trafficking.

The agency has a current operating budget of nearly $164 million, with a proposed increase to about $189 million in the next fiscal year. The superintendent said the budget includes millions of dollars in state aid grants to other police departments that his agency distributes.

In the nine months since he assumed command of the state police, Colonel Tolliver has restored a recruit class that was dropped in November 1991 because of budget cuts; promoted more than 200 troopers; once again allowed troopers -- with some restrictions -- to take their patrol cars home with them; ordered new vehicles and equipment, including better bulletproof vests that must be worn at all times; and improved training of troopers.

Colonel Tolliver said he eliminated the position of deputy superintendent because "it was just a buffer zone between me and everyone else. I don't need someone screening what I do."

JTC The superintendent said he intends to improve highway patrols and criminal investigations through better training and by working closer with other jurisdictions and relinquishing some duties to counties that have their own police forces.

Agreements already have been reached with Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, he said.

"I think we have been spread too thin," Colonel Tolliver said. "The State Police can no longer afford to be all things to all people. Some metropolitan county departments are nearly equal in size to the entire State Police complement."

Counties that request state police aid, such as the resident trooper program, will continue to receive it as long as the jurisdictions are willing to pay the cost, the colonel said.

Officials in Carroll County, where no countywide police agency exists, have asked the state police to continue the resident trooper program. The Westminster barracks has a staff of 88 troopers, 46 of whom participate in the resident trooper program.

When Colonel Tolliver was given interim command of the State Police nine months ago -- amid grumblings that he achieved the appointment through his long-term relationship with Gov. William Donald Schaefer -- he promised to be a hands-on leader.

Colonel Tolliver won the job on a permanent basis in September and recently received a vote of confidence from Governor Schaefer. He also appears to have quieted his critics through administrative changes and given his troopers a feeling of job security.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Colonel Tolliver makes unannounced visits to barracks around the state for a first-hand look at operations. He also rides along with troopers on highway patrols and accompanies them on investigations.

During an undercover narcotics investigation in the fall, Colonel Tolliver, a trooper and an accompanying reporter for The Sun were shot at by a suspected drug dealer.

Colonel Tolliver also single-handedly nabbed a suspected purse snatcher near his home in Annapolis.

Troopers who developed a "wait-and-see" attitude when Colonel Tolliver was appointed appear nearly unanimous in their support of him now.

"The initial approach here is to provide good management techniques to help get the most out of our resources," said Colonel Tolliver, who puts in 12-hour days and works weekends and holidays, and seems never to tire of discussing more changes.

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