State police ask county to approve hiring a community liaison Federal grant would pay 75% of salary

tentative OK given by commissioners

June 04, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

With federal grant money, Carroll could hire a community liaison to work with state police, troopers told the County Commissioners yesterday.

"It is a cheap way to get assistance," said Capt. Lawrence E. Faries, executive officer for the central region, which includes FTC Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's and Carroll counties.

"It would be someone to work in the barracks, ideally someone with a police background, a kind of crime prevention practitioner."

The County Commissioners gave tentative approval but no firm commitment yesterday to a federal program that would pay 75 percent of the civilian's estimated $30,000 annual salary for each of three years. The county would fund the remaining salary and agree to continue the employment indefinitely.

The Westminster barracks must frequently turn down public speaking engagements and requests for police presence at school and community events. A liaison could easily fill those requests and give officers more time for pressing police duties.

"We are constantly getting calls from neighborhoods who say they never see a trooper," said spokesman 1st Sgt. Andy Mays. "With a civilian handling community events, officers can be more of a presence in the community. You could get in touch with what crime is out there."

Hiring a civilian, possibly a retired officer, instead of an additional trooper would mean considerable savings. Each new trooper costs about $105,000 annually, including equipment and a vehicle.

"It sounds like a bargain," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. "We would be getting the social work and relieving a man. We would get a new cop for one quarter of the cost and get efficiency and productivity from this employee."

The application process must be completed by Wednesday. The money could be available in the fall, but more likely by Jan. 1, Faries said.

If the grant application is successful, it could mean two more people on the staff at the Westminster barracks. The county's fiscal 1999 budget, which begins July 1, includes money to hire a state trooper. Plans call for adding at least one trooper to the county every year for the next five years.

"The county is growing, and we are going to need more police," said Mays. "We feel like the Dutch boy. The dike is going to break any minute and run right over us."

The resident trooper program, which costs Carroll taxpayers $3.4 million a year, is a cooperative agreement with the state to provide countywide law enforcement, investigative services and assistance to five municipal police forces and the county Sheriff's Department.

"The county is growing by 5,000 people a year, and calls inundate the barracks," said Mays. "We can't ask the same amount of troopers to handle those calls."

Pub Date: 6/04/98

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