Staffing shortage leads sheriff in Carroll to disband drug team Deputies now to provide security at courthouses

December 14, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Carroll County Sheriff John H. Brown has disbanded his agency's Drug Strike Force, citing a shortage of deputies to provide adequate security for the courthouses.

Brown said Friday he hated shutting down his strike force, but felt he had no choice because the county's circuit judges have been asking for additional security since 1994.

The sheriff formed the strike force amid controversy in September 1995, a month after removing his deputies from the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force, a joint effort among law enforcement agencies under the supervision of the state's attorney. Brown's pullout -- on the heels of the Westminster Police Department's defection -- effectively ended the joint task force.

Effective tomorrow, two of the sheriff's four strike force members will begin duty at the county courthouses.

That will bring to nine the number of deputies assigned to court security.

Deputies walk prisoners from the county jail to district and circuit courtrooms. They monitor holding cells and courtrooms during trials and hearings in the historic courthouse and the court annex, both of which are three-story buildings.

The sheriff said he would meet by tomorrow with Lt. Leonard Armstrong, commander of the Westminster barracks of the Maryland State Police, to turn over active cases.

"I hope the state police can get the money from the [County] Commissioners to add 10 to 15 more troopers to handle the increase in drugs" in the county, Brown said.

Of the two remaining deputies on the sheriff's strike force, one will serve warrants and protective orders, and the other, a police-dog handler, will begin road patrol.

Jerry F. Barnes, Carroll's state's attorney, said the sheriff's decision to disband his strike force would not have a serious impact on drug trafficking in Carroll.

Pub Date: 12/14/97

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