Over-stretching a Thin Blue Line

April 28, 1994

Phil Henry is living proof that you can't be in two places at the same time. He is also another piece of evidence in building a case to create a Carroll County police force.

Trooper First Class Henry is a 23-year veteran of the Maryland State Police and has served as the resident trooper for the towns of Union Bridge and New Windsor. After a dozen years of patrolling the roads, streets and fields of northwest Carroll County, he announced that he is calling it quits.

Union Bridge and New Windsor shared the cost of Trooper Henry's salary and benefits, and the officer split his 40-hour work week between the two towns. To be sure, New Windsor and Union Bridge aren't being overrun by criminals. Except for some breaking and entering, which Trooper Henry solved, the towns mainly have had to deal with some youthful vandalism and mischief, which even a squad of police might have trouble preventing. Nevertheless, some residents in each of the towns complained that Trooper Henry was never on hand when he was needed.

Although the officer did not want to disclose his reasons for stepping aside as resident trooper, we suspect he concluded that there was no way to fulfill these unrealistic expectations. The towns expected a full-time policeman for a part-time price. To expect a single officer to provide seven day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day coverage for two towns located four miles apart is akin to expecting to receive Christmas presents every day or winning the lottery every time you play a number.

If the residents of Union Bridge and New Windsor really feel they need for a full-time patrolman, they have two options: They can authorize the formation of their own police forces, as other Carroll County towns have done, or lobby to create a county force. The cost of maintaining a police department is considerable and neither town could afford one without a substantial increase in taxes.

The more reasonable option is to create a county police force that could provide the full-time security these towns want. A county force would surely have an impact on curbing crime in New Windsor and Union Bridge. And having county police officers cruising through their towns might also give residents the peace of mind that many of them now don't seem to enjoy.

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