Expanded city police powers supported

Commissioners back plan for jurisdiction outside of municipalities

June 28, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The county commissioners agreed yesterday to support legislation that would expand the jurisdiction of Carroll County's five municipal police departments.

If the proposed legislation is passed by the Maryland General Assembly, Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning would be given authority to deputize municipal police officers. The change would give town police officers power to make arrests outside their jurisdictions and could take effect as early as July 1, 2001.

"We would also like to have something in writing from the mayors and town councils, so it's clear they support this," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge.

Sykesville and Westminster have entered into mutual aid agreements with the county, Tregoning said. Those agreements allow officers in those municipalities to assist sheriff's deputies in emergency situations.

The legislation would give town police arrest authority in some nonemergency situations, such as traffic violations.

"This would close a loophole in the law," Tregoning told the commissioners.

Last year, three cases had to be dismissed because state law prohibits town officers from handling traffic violations outside their jurisdictions, Tregoning told the commissioners.

Maryland State Police troopers serve as the county's primary source of law enforcement and are supported by sheriff's deputies. Granting arrest powers to town officers would give the county about 60 additional deputies.

Tregoning outlined the plan in April, at a meeting with county leaders, state law enforcement officials and the chiefs of the five town police agencies - Hampstead, Manchester, Taneytown, Sykesville and Westminster.

The matter was originally raised by Sykesville Chief Wallace P. Mitchell, who is president of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association.

Other counties, such as Frederick and Harford, deputize municipal officers and it has worked well for them, Tregoning said.

The cost in Frederick County for additional liability insurance to cover about 120 deputized officers is about $10,000.

It was not clear yesterday how much it would cost Carroll to deputize town officers.

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