Sheriff to stop deputizing volunteer fire police

Tregoning plans to begin a new program in 2006

August 07, 2005|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County sheriff is divorcing his office from the volunteer fire departments' fire police, but says he will be wooing some of them for a new volunteer program he plans to begin next year.

Dozens of the volunteer fire police officers, many of them older and retired, are attached to fire companies and direct traffic for them at accidents and fires.

Twenty-nine of them have been deputized by the sheriff to help, for example, at countywide events at the farm museum.

Now, Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning said, "I will not swear any in after Dec. 31, 2005. Any current deputization will expire on that date, and I will not renew them."

Word of the change comes after the arrest last month of a 64-year-old volunteer fire police officer on misdemeanor charges, including impersonating a police officer and possession of law-enforcement credentials.

Tregoning dismissed any link between that incident and the startup of his new volunteer program.

"We've been talking about this for several years," he said, "and in the last year or so, it started to build."

Fire police now deputized will be asked to turn in their identification by the end of the year, said Capt. Clarence W. Lust, assistant chief of the sheriff's investigative services bureau, whose duties include coordinating with the fire police and devising the new Auxiliary Patrol Program.

"We're just really getting the ball rolling," he said of the program to begin in January.

Planning began this year, he said, and the department has just begun to solicit members, with printed fliers distributed at last week's county fair.

"Quite frankly, these guys have done a tremendous job over the years," Lust said. "They don't get paid, they get up in the middle of the night to go to an accident scene, to help in storms."

But because a core group of about 10 of the 29 deputized fire police answers most of the calls, he added, more are needed.

Volunteers no longer need to be affiliated with a fire company, Lust said.

In another change, volunteers for the new program will be asked to pledge a minimum of 16 hours a month.

In addition to directing traffic, volunteers might be asked to perform duties such as investigating road hazards, tagging abandoned vehicles, patrolling senior citizen facilities, fingerprinting, answering telephones or filling out reports.

Sun editorial assistant Ellie Baublitz contributed to this article.

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