Federal police program bolsters county force

February 17, 1997


Staff Writer

When shoplifters took items from the Montgomery Ward store in Valley Mall last Wednesday, Deputy Richard Peacock was there to nab them.

"We just happened to be there," Peacock said. "We saw the vehicle."

In years past, that might not have been the case. But since Feb. 1, Peacock and Deputy Jeff Cooper have been assigned exclusively to the Halfway area, dramatically cutting response times.

Similarly, Deputy Kenneth Cain has beefed up Boonsboro's police protection, joining two deputies already assigned to the town.

The hiring of Cain and Peacock, along with Cooper, was made possible by 1994 crime legislation, which provides federal money to hire officers for community policing.


Under the legislation, the federal government will pay 75 percent of the costs of the new deputies for three years. After that, the county - and the town in Boonsboro's case - will pay the entire cost.

The three officers bring varied experience to their new beats:

  • Kenneth Cain, 43, Boonsboro's new deputy, recently retired after 19 years with the Maryland Department of Corrections. For 14 years, he conducted internal investigations of inmates and guards in the state's correctional facilities.

"I looked at this as a second career, to use my training and experience ... dealing with the public," he said.

  • Richard Peacock, 29, went to Anne Arundel Community College and Catonsville Community College and completed training.

Peacock, who lives in the Baltimore area, started patrolling the Halfway area on Feb. 1 after four months of training.

  • Jeff Cooper, 30, joined the Sheriff's Department after an 11-year career with Hagerstown City Police. He started his Halfway assignment last year.

Cooper said that in Hagerstown, he was assigned to a small area. Now he patrols from the city line to Interstate 70 and from Hopewell Road to Downsville Pike.

All three deputies have been trained in community policing, which stresses identifying potential problems before they blow out of control.

That can include anything from helping residents set up a neighborhood watch program, as Cain is doing in Boonsboro, to referring people to service organizations.

"As a community police officer, we don't solve the problem for them. We help them find the right place to solve their own problems," Cooper said.

The deputies said they hope to build deeper ties to their communities. As a result, they said, the crime rate initially might go up as more people report crimes. But then it should decline, they said.

Just being there helps a great deal, too, they said. Peacock said he keeps an eye out for traffic violators, a big problem in the area.

"They never used to have to worry about an officer being there," he said. "Now, they do."

The Herald-Mail Articles