Sheriff's eviction work is paying off for county Deputies took over from constables

November 28, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

More than $300,000 has been injected into county coffers in the last seven months since deputies in the Anne Arundel Sheriff's Office -- instead of state constables -- began serving eviction notices.

"This is something that was never done before in this county," Sheriff George F. Johnson IV said yesterday at a news conference. "And it's working out very well so far."

Anne Arundel is one of the last counties in the state to delegate eviction responsibilities to its sheriff's deputies. Only Baltimore and Washington counties and Baltimore still use the District Court Constable Service, Johnson said.

When the constables served the notices, all fees paid by landlords went to the state. But since the deputies took over, the county receives $5 of the $7 fee to post an eviction notice and all of the $30 fee to serve an eviction order, Johnson said.

The sheriff released a study that showed that since his civil process division took over the job on April 24, the county has received $348,140.

Johnson said he spoke to County Executive John G. Gary in January 1995 about replacing the 10 constables with 11 deputies. Johnson told Gary that the constables had about a 50 percent success rate in closing eviction cases and that he thought he could do better.

Since the deputies assumed the duties, the service rate has risen to about 75 percent, the sheriff said. Johnson attributed the increase to the deputies' powers of arrest and the fact that they carry weapons.

Johnson said the office has projected about $600,000 in revenue by the end of June 1997. About half of that will be used to pay for the salaries, cars and uniforms of the deputies in the civil process unit, he said.

The sheriff's statistics showed that more than 512 individuals and families out of 3,995 served were evicted from their residences between April and September. The deputies also have turned over to the county Police Department the names and addresses of 12 people who are wanted on a variety of warrants ranging from drug possession to theft.

Johnson's study also included an Oct. 31 letter from a state landlords organization praising the office's efforts.

"The responses that I received from apartment management companies was that they were 'thrilled' with the service they were being given by your office," wrote Joseph Perry, government affairs liaison with the Home Builders Association of Maryland.

Johnson's report was compiled at the request of County Councilman Bert L. Rice. , who said he was pleased with the study's findings. "The services that they are providing are responsive," the Odenton Republican said.

Pub Date: 11/28/96

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