More feet on the street

New volunteer patrol will help free up police

March 05, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

When she was 6, Elizabeth DuVall said she watched the television show CHiPs about the California highway patrol and dreamed about becoming a police officer. But when she graduated from Westminster High School, her life took a detour. She got married and had two boys, now 6 and 8, who occupied most of her time.

Now, DuVall is preparing to enter law enforcement.

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office selected her for a new Auxiliary Patrol Program in November. She just completed her training.

"We'll provide an extra set of eyes, ears and hands out there," said DuVall, 29, who lives in Westminster. "I'm eager to just get out in the community and provide more of a police presence."

The 11 recruits in the volunteer program finished their required training last week and are beginning to assist deputies around the county.

Carroll County only has 1.3 sworn police officers per 1,000 residents, including state police officers, sheriff's deputies and municipal police.

According to Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning, the uniformed volunteers will serve a key function: controlling crowds at events and directing traffic at accident scenes, which will free up deputies to pursue criminal investigations.

In January, Tregoning stopped deputizing fire police officers, who once fulfilled the volunteer role at countywide events. He said the auxiliary patrol should be more structured and efficient than the fire police officers because the sheriff's office directly oversees them.

Capt. Clarence W. Lust, assistant chief of the sheriff's investigative services bureau, devised the auxiliary program and modeled it after volunteer programs with the Frederick County Sheriff's Office and the Howard County Police Department. Baltimore County also operates an auxiliary police program.

Lust said he will encourage promising volunteers to apply for positions in the department to help increase the police forces in Carroll County.

Both DuVall and Kathleen Yox - two of the program's three female volunteers - said they want to attend the state police training academy in Sykesville to become deputies. In the meantime, Yox has been offered a full-time job working courthouse security.

"It's a foot in the door," said Yox, a mother of five who is interested in working sobriety checkpoints to curb drunken driving.

Wayne Hollenbaugh of Sykesville coordinates volunteer activity for the sheriff's department around his full-time job as an insurance agent. Tim Stamper, who runs a security alarm business out of his home in Eldersburg, said he would conduct home security surveys with the patrol.

"I always wanted to be a police officer, but now I have my own company and haven't had the time," Stamper said. "But this is perfect."

Questions about liability for auxiliary officers have been raised, particularly in Howard County - where a volunteer officer lost part of his leg when he was hit by a car while preparing to direct traffic on the day before Thanksgiving. The Howard department is reviewing whether the county has adequate insurance coverage for its auxiliary force.

In Carroll County, the volunteer officers have signed waivers of liability, Lust said.

County Attorney Kimberly A. Millender said the county's insurance would cover the volunteers if they were sued while on the job but wouldn't cover any injuries that occurred while on duty.

On top of juggling their jobs, children and college courses, the volunteers received 40 hours of training last month on such topics as first aid and firearm safety.

They've also spent at least 16 hours on ride-along shifts with deputies, officials said.

DuVall has tagged along on several overnight shifts around Mount Airy while her husband and children were home asleep.

The trained volunteers are booked for assignments through October, staffing festivals and parades. They make their debut at a craft show at Liberty High School on Saturday.

They will be sporting gray, starched uniforms and black jackets as they supervise parking and crowd control at the event.

They are also booked for the Carroll County Farm Museum's Fiddlers' Convention in June and for Fourth of July festivities.

Since the 11 volunteers were selected from a pool of 40 applicants, they feel a sense of responsibility and gratitude.

"It's an honor to wear the uniform and represent Carroll County," DuVall said. "It's an honor just to have been picked."

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

Duties of the Auxiliary Patrol Volunteers

Leading gun safety programs in Carroll elementary schools.

Fingerprinting for the sheriff's office.

Directing traffic at accident scenes and during festivals.

Controling crowds at parades and countywide events.

Patrolling roads.

Source: Carroll County Sheriff's Office

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