Merging of police units discussed

Sheriff, state police investigative staffs might collaborate

August 18, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A plan to merge the investigative units of the Carroll County sheriff's office and state police in Westminster is based on a common-sense belief that it's a "better use of available resources," said Lt. Terry Katz, barracks commander.

Katz and Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning first discussed the plan in February. After state and county lawyers resolve some liability issues, state police superintendent Col. David B. Mitchell will review the contract for approval, Katz said.

"Everybody who has looked at the plan likes it," Katz said. "It's just a matter of ironing out some of the [contractual] language."

If approved, three sheriff's deputies and a secretary would begin working from the Westminster barracks, he said.

"There's no cost to the taxpayer because we have the space and furniture available in the new barracks, and both agencies have cars and 800-megahertz radios," Katz said.

While state police could provide additional support and resources, Katz believes sheriff's deputies would bring along an invaluable resource.

"The sheriff's office has deputies out serving warrants and summonses every day, and they have a finger on the neighborhoods and communities," Katz said. "They know who the criminals are in many instances and can provide ready information on where to find likely suspects."

A deputy who regularly works on tracking fugitives would be teamed with a trooper counterpart to serve warrants. The other two deputies would team with state police detectives to investigate burglaries, thefts, bad check writing and the like, Katz said.

"It just makes sense. If a deputy has a lead on a suspect in Cumberland, they won't have to drive out there," he said. "We can easily get a trooper [at the Cumberland barracks] to do the interview."

By working in teams and staggering schedules, the new unit could continue investigations around the clock, Katz noted.

He said another advantage comes from working with experienced officers who were trained in different academies.

"A good investigator can always learn a new technique, a new method from another veteran officer," Katz said. "The size of the agency makes no difference. A proven investigative technique can come from an agency with two or three officers as well as one much larger."

The new Criminal Intelligence Unit would be supervised by state police Detective Sgt. Nick Plazio, meaning Tregoning would have an additional sergeant to use for other duties.

State police, sheriff's deputies and municipal police in Allegany and Worcester counties have operated similar cooperative investigative units for six or seven years, Katz said.

Specialization has proven effective in other areas in Carroll County, Katz said, pointing to the success of the Narcotics Task Force, the Child Abuse/Sexual Assault (CASA) unit and the state's attorney's domestic violence unit.

Tregoning promised to make his office more cooperative with allied agencies. One of his first projects after taking office in December was to promote a merger of the Narcotics Task Force, helping unite the anti-drug efforts of the state police, deputies and prosecutors from the state's attorney's office.

Tregoning and Katz have often said such joint ventures benefit their agencies and Carroll County residents, saving money by cutting duplicative efforts.

Pub Date: 8/18/99

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