More Arundel sheriff shenanigans

September 06, 1994

Make a trip to the local library and look up a copy of the Aug. 15 issue of U.S. News and World Report, which includes a short article on the controversy over safety along Maryland's Central Light Rail Line. It's pretty funny stuff.

Funny, because the star character in this story, Anne Arundel County Sheriff Robert G. Pepersack Sr., has absolutely nothing to do with fighting light rail crime.

The photo accompanying the article in the national publication shows the sheriff standing next to a light rail car, looking tough.

He sounds tough, too. The story quotes Mr. Pepersack saying he "is comfortable riding the train only because he's 'a law enforcement official with a 9 mm pistol.' "

The poor sheriff, he wants so badly to be the county's chief law man. He wants so badly to have more authority than his office allows.

He just could not resist getting in on this light rail crime issue right from the beginning, even sending to Gov. William Donald Schaefer a letter recommending "in the strongest terms that you issue an executive order closing [the Linthicum Heights] station."

Later, he said, "These people are living in fear, and my job is to prevent that."

No, it isn't.

Sheriff Pepersack's concern about the safety of Linthicum may be all well and good, but the fact remains that this isn't his battle. The sheriff's department guards the courthouse, serves warrants and other papers and transports prisoners to and from jail. It isn't responsible for controlling crime; the police are.

In fact, in Anne Arundel County, it is Northern District police officers who patrol the light rail line -- not sheriff's deputies.

They're the ones who started a Light Rail Enforcement initiative 3 1/2 months ago, working with Mass Transit Administration police to monitor the stations, arrest troublemakers and make residents and riders feel safe. They're the ones who should have been in that magazine picture.

Incidentally, light rail arrests have dwindled since the county police began cracking down on crime around the stations. The severity of the alleged crimes has lessened, too; disorderly conduct and failure to pay train fares account for most of the arrests.

So you can feel comfortable riding the trains -- even if you don't carry a 9 mm.

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