Police to get sniper case aid

Five Md. departments to split nearly $1 million

Howard apparently left out

January 31, 2003|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Maryland police departments will receive nearly $1 million in federal assistance to offset costs associated with the October sniper shootings, but Howard and Anne Arundel counties -- which tallied a half-million dollars in overtime as they monitored schools and roads during the crisis -- apparently won't get a penny.

"I'm disappointed," said Anne Arundel County Police Chief P. Thomas Shanahan. "This wasn't cheap or easy for us to do. We were hoping for some federal help."

Howard County, which borders two counties where shootings took place, reported $330,000 in overtime costs, and a spokeswoman said the Police Department has been pursuing federal assistance. Howard police declined to comment on not receiving Justice Department aid.

Five Maryland police departments, 21 in Virginia and one in Washington will divide the $2.5 million Justice Department reimbursement. Many of those agencies learned yesterday about the aid, which is about 58 percent of what they requested.

Washington-area police departments mobilized hundreds of officers Oct. 3, when four people in Montgomery County and one in Washington were killed by sniper shootings.

Four days later, when a 13-year-old boy was wounded outside Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie, Maryland counties as far north as Harford beefed up security outside schools. Eventually, 13 people were shot, 10 fatally, before two suspects were arrested Oct. 24.

Every jurisdiction where a shooting took place will receive money, as will some departments that provided support during the investigation.

Others will receive nothing, however.

Shanahan's department estimated its overtime expense at $161,000 -- about 4,800 hours -- mainly resulting from protecting schools, scouting for suspects and assisting with roadblocks. The county line is about five miles from the site of the sniper shooting Oct. 7 at the Bowie middle school.

Anne Arundel County Police Department officials said they were never told that the Justice Department money was available.

A spokeswoman for Sen. George F. Allen, a Virginia Republican who is one of the four U.S. senators from Maryland and Virginia who wrote a letter in October requesting the federal assistance, said only departments directly involved in the sniper investigation are being compensated.

After receiving the letter, the Justice Department asked the governors' offices of the two states to submit overtime tallies for the operation.

George R. Ludington, communications manager for the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention in Maryland, said his office was told by the Justice Department which jurisdictions should submit overtime expenses. "We offered to ask about others, and they said no," he said.

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall said all localities involved in sniper-related activities were asked to submit their overtime expenses.

"Because it was such a coordinated effort, we had very good knowledge about which agencies helped out," Marshall said. "We made sure to reach out to them."

The largest amount in either state will go to Montgomery County, where six shootings took place and which was the hub of what became an international investigation. Montgomery will be reimbursed about $602,000.

The Fairfax County, Va. police will get the next-highest amount, $250,000 less than Montgomery.

"There was no way we could have budgeted to handle this type of emergency," said Lucille Baur, a spokeswoman for the Mongomery County Police Department.

"We're very appreciative to receive something back."

Montgomery County's $1 million in reported overtime costs is the largest for a single operation in the Police Department's history, Baur said.

Prince George's County is to receive $231,000.

The Maryland State Police, which arrested sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo in the early morning of Oct. 24 as they slept in their car near Myersville, will get $110,622. The state police confirmed that they will get that amount but declined to comment further.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens said through her spokeswoman, "It's distressing that some of the local governments who so actively participated did not receive any of the money."

Shanahan said the Police Department could cover overtime costs -- barely -- without going into the red.

The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention has $185,000 in state money earmarked for sniper-related overtime. Ludington said some of that aid could go to counties such as Howard and Anne Arundel.

Sun staff writers Ryan Davis and Jason Song contributed to this article.

Overtime reimbursements

Overtime expenses of Maryland police departments and federal reimbursement.

Montgomery County: $1,044,025; will receive $601,889 from Justice Department

Prince George's County: $400,839; will receive $231,087

Rockville: $35,637; will receive $20,545

Gaithersburg: $31,542; will receive $18,184

*Anne Arundel County: $160,974; will receive $0

*Howard County: $330,000; will receive $0

Maryland State Police: $191,881; will receive $110,622

* Overtime not submitted to Justice Department

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