'Goose' lines up for Carroll jail posse Ravens' Siragusa first to answer call for aid

December 18, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

Sheriff John Brown, who vowed last month to recruit a posse to help at the crowded Carroll County jail, has signed his first and, no doubt, biggest volunteer -- Tony "Goose" Siragusa, the 6-foot-3, 335-pound Baltimore Ravens tackle.

Brown said yesterday that swearing in Siragusa was no publicity stunt.

"I never met the man before, but he was a deputy sheriff in Indianapolis for seven years," Brown said.

The Ravens' defensive stalwart said he learned about the sheriff's difficulties and decided to come to the Westminster detention center Tuesday to offer his services.

"I've been a sheriff in a couple of counties I've lived in. I read in the newspaper about some of the problems they were having, such as cells being overcrowded and lack of community involvement. So I decided to act upon it, to get involved, to do something," said Siragusa, 30. "I've already put in 17 hours of work at the police academy in Indianapolis. I have some experience which will come in handy."

Asked if he plans to become a policeman when he retires from football, Siragusa said, "Me, a cop? Hell, no."

A spokeswoman for the Marion County Sheriff's Department in Indianapolis said yesterday that Siragusa did a lot of community service when he was playing for the Indianapolis Colts, especially visiting children in hospitals, and was named an honorary deputy sheriff.

She said Siragusa had no authority to arrest anyone. She did not know if he had contact with prison inmates.

Brown said posse members will not have direct contact with prisoners. They will perform duties such as answering telephones and monitoring hallways.

Brown should have no worries if his first posse member has to deal with unruly inmates. Besides routinely tossing aside 300-pound offensive linemen as a premier run-stopper in the National Football League, Siragusa was the state heavyweight wrestling champion at Brearly High School in Kenilworth, N.J., with a 97-1 career record.

Last month, Brown said he would form a posse to help handle administrative duties and free correctional officers to guard prisoners at the severely overcrowded jail.

If necessary, he said, tents will be set up in a fenced jail courtyard to house as many as 60 work-release prisoners.

The inmate population, which has been as high as 175 in the jail built to house 120 prisoners, stood at 163 yesterday. A 100-bed addition has been discussed for about 10 years. Bids for construction were opened Tuesday, and groundbreaking is expected in the spring.

The County Commissioners have authorized hiring 12 more deputies, but that doesn't alleviate Brown's immediate concern because applicants must be screened and trained.

Brown announced last week that he had disbanded a four-man drug strike force and reassigned the deputies to provide security at the county courthouse.

Yesterday, Brown said he hoped he would not have to set up tents for inmates until at least April.

"[The tents] have been ordered, and I may take out a loan to pay for them," he said.

Pub Date: 12/18/97

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