County police to shift more officers to precinct work

September 10, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

More Baltimore County police will be working from local precincts under a decentralization plan announced yesterday by top county officials.

The reorganization is a continuation of the trend toward "community policing" begun a decade ago by former Chief Cornelius J. Behan, but yesterday's plan goes much further.

At a news conference, Police Chief Michael D. Gambrill and County Executive Roger B. Hayden said 122 more officers will be working from the county's nine precinct stations. Combined with efforts to hire private companies to transport prisoners and write parking tickets and the hiring of more civilians and police cadets to free uniformed officers for patrol, the plan will put more officers on the streets than ever, they said.

But the chief acknowledged that the number of officers still is lower than it was three years ago, because of budget cuts.

Majors will be assigned to command eight precincts, with a lower ranking officer at the Parkville station. The larger White Marsh precinct supervises Parkville.

Each major will control patrol and community policing efforts, using more officers for crime prevention, neighborhood problem-solving, burglary investigations and youth activities. A lieutenant called a community outreach commander will be assigned to each precinct to oversee neighborhood programs.

Captains who now command precincts will be in charge of patrol duties.

"This is a new and creative approach to problem-solving in our communities," Mr. Hayden said, linking it to his push for preserving and strengthening older county communities.

Some restructuring began several months ago, and the plan should be fully implemented in October, Chief Gambrill said. Timothy Caslin, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, saw political implications in the timing of the announcement. "I'm suspicious," said Lieutenant Caslin, referring to the Tuesday primary election and the November general vote.

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