Looking to keep pace with growth and increased demands for police service, the towns of Hampstead and Manchester have hired rookie officers who begin 18 weeks of training Monday.
Taking advantage of a three-year Department of Justice grant, which provides 75 percent of salary and benefits, Hampstead has hired Stacey Hager, its first female officer, and Manchester has hired Patrick Gartrell, its first rookie.
With Hager, 25, of Catonsville, Hampstead will have a force of seven officers, including Chief Kenneth Meekins. Gartrell, 23, of Littlestown, Pa., brings Manchester's force to four, including Chief Timothy Timmons.
The grants provide about $75,000 to each town over three years, costing each about $25,000 for that period, Meekins said.
In the past, Manchester hired retiring veterans from other police agencies, saving the cost and time of trainingting the new officer in the field more quickly, he said.
Timmons and Meekins see the numbers of homes planned or under construction in their northern Carroll County communities and know that growth -- rapid or moderate -- will put a strain on their agencies.
Manchester is seeing increases in malicious destruction, Timmons said. Meekins reports thefts under $300 for the first six months of this year jumped to 33, nearly twice the 18 cases for the same period last year.
Hampstead, with a population of 4,200, is expected to add 2,300 residents in the next eight years.
Manchester, population 3,200, has adopted a five-year master plan that allows for moderate growth of up to 5,000 residents.
However, 800 new single-family houses are planned or under construction in the town, and its population could swell beyond the 5,000-resident cap.
"The added officer should be sufficient for the anticipated growth," Timmons said.
Growth projections aside, Meekins and Timmons are satisfied their rookies will be well-trained by the Maryland Police Training Commission at State Police Headquarters in Pikesville.
Hager and Gartrell are to graduate Dec. 18, and they will complete field training with their departments, riding along with a seasoned officer until that officer and his chief determine they are ready to patrol on their own.
Because of the towns' proximity along Hanover Pike -- about two miles apart -- officers frequently back up one another. Both departments work with state police.
The bond between the towns' police agencies was strengthened recently when Manchester donated $500 to help Hampstead pay for obtaining and training its first police-dog unit.
Manchester is "basically a residential community," said Timmons. "We don't have all of the same kinds of problems as other towns in the county, but we have them.
"It's only fair that we help, because we know that if we have a
need for the services of a K-9 unit, Hampstead will help out."
The chiefs hope their rookie classmates help tighten that bond.
Pub Date: 8/07/98