Police aid neighbor agencies

March 20, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare and Bill Talbott | Mary Gail Hare and Bill Talbott,Sun Staff Writers

The five Carroll County towns that maintain their own police forces do not hesitate to respond when a call for assistance comes from outside town limits, according to spokesmen for those departments.

"If I couldn't assist other officers, I would walk away from police work," said Sykesville Police Chief Wallace P. Mitchell. "It's ridiculous not to help."

Chief Mitchell said he and his five Sykesville officers receive about 10 calls for assistance outside town each month and about 120 in town.

In South Carroll, the town police often can respond sooner than the Maryland State Police troopers who patrol a large area from Eldersburg to Mount Airy.

Occasionally, town officers also help Howard County police.

"We were first on the scene of a recent personal injury accident at Routes 26 and 32," said Chief Mitchell. "There was nobody else close by, and a mother and child were injured. The state police asked us to get there first."

Taneytown Chief Melvin Diggs said his officers "will go just about anywhere, Keymar and farther, for whatever the reason, if someone calls."

A Taneytown policy limits police activity to a half-mile outside the city limits, but the five officers don't let a technicality stand in their way if an officer is in distress, said Chief Diggs.

Lt. Randy Barnes said the Westminster Police Department practices a half-mile "breach of peace" policy. If officers observe an offense outside their jurisdiction, they can take action and make arrests, he said.

Westminster responds to urgent calls for help outside the city, he said, but receives few.

"We practice a mutual aid policy with the state police, and we help each other," he said.

In Sykesville, Chief Mitchell said he does not hesitate to call other police forces when his own officers need help.

"If an officer requests backup, we stand by with him," he said. "Everybody helps one another."

Chief Mitchell reaffirmed his position at a Sykesville Town Council meeting last week in response to comments made during a previous meeting, which he did not attend.

"Many residents are complaining that police have been outside the town limits for long periods of time," Councilman Garth Adams had said.

Mr. Adams asked the chief to consider limiting responses outside the town. The chief said he would not change the mutual aid policy.

"We continue to respond when they request," said Chief Mitchell. "I have met with Garth, and we have settled this issue. We have an understanding."

Spokesmen for police departments in Hampstead and Manchester said they have had no complaints from residents about time spent outside their towns.

"We are not here 24 hours a day," said Manchester Chief Donald Myers. "The state police always help us, and we help them or any agency which needs us."

With only three officers to cover Manchester, police often work alone and call for backup.

"An officer never knows when a minor incident might escalate into something," said Chief Mitchell of Sykesville. "That's the unknown about police work."

Hampstead Chief Ken Russell said that, in his 13 years on the job, he has never heard any resident complain about outside calls.

8, "Our job is one of mutual aid," he said.

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