Md. police departments to get sniper crisis aid

But Justice Department slights Arundel, Howard

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 Anne Arundel and Howard counties - which tallied half a 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."

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," Ludington 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.

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

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

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