Barracks dedication links past with future

Westminster troopers mark program's 25th year, merge units with sheriff

November 09, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The dedication yesterday of the $3.1 million state police barracks in Westminster was, said Lt. Terry Katz, "a perfect time to reflect on the past and look to the future."

Katz was joined by Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, state Treasurer Richard N. Dixon and other state and local police and civilian dignitaries who welcomed past barracks commanders, including Carroll County Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning.

Katz also welcomed the return of a half-dozen retired troopers who opened the old barracks in 1961 and most of the first 10 resident troopers. They attended in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Resident Trooper Program, a cooperative endeavor begun in 1974 between the county's Board of Commissioners and Maryland State Police.

Tregoning, who chose not to sign up for the Resident Trooper Program 25 years ago because he wanted the freedom to patrol the entire county rather than one of five geographic sectors, went on to become a barracks commander and retired last year when he was elected sheriff.

Yesterday, Tregoning and Col. David B. Mitchell, state police superintendent, signed a memorandum of understanding, merging the investigative units of the sheriff's office and the state police in Westminster.

"The merger is important because it provides the opportunity for more concentrated and better law enforcement for the citizens of Carroll County," Tregoning said. "By providing a closer relationship between law enforcement agencies, this agreement strengthens the commitment of all police agencies dedicated to public service, which [in this instance] is fighting crime."

Katz noted that the agreement was the first in state police history that did not arise from a problem that needed resolving.

Townsend and Dixon spoke briefly, praising county officials and state police for innovative law enforcement, noting that the new barracks with modern equipment will better serve county residents.

Mitchell reminded the crowd of nearly 100, including members of the Westminster High School band and choral group, that the "flagship" barracks in Westminster is the state's busiest, handling 33,461 calls for service last year.

He also lauded Westminster troopers for issuing nearly 33,000 traffic citations and making 2,330 arrests last year.

"After 38 years, we wore out the old building," Mitchell said.

The notion produced a smile from retired troopers such as Dominic C. Dattilio, who lived upstairs in the old barracks after it opened in April 1961. Dattilio was a corporal when he supervised the first 10 resident troopers in 1974.

"Nobody called it `community policing' back then, but that's exactly what it was," Dattilio said. "The troopers were out of their patrol cars for at least an hour every shift and involved with business owners and citizens."

By 1983, when Dattilio retired, Carroll County had 33 resident troopers. Today, it has 49 resident troopers of the 115 troopers and civilians supervised by Katz.

"The first barracks opened in a rural farm community with a few commuters," Katz said. "Now, we're in a commuter community with a few rural farms."

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