Sheriff calls budget 'a plea for help'

February 25, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Sheriff calls budget 'a plea for help'

Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades asked the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday for 25 new employees to help fight crime and control a growing prison population.

"This is a plea for help," Mades said, as he presented his budget request for fiscal year 1999, which begins July 1.

Mades said an increase in arrests and a surge in the number of prisoners justified hiring more people.

Mades requested eight new deputies for the patrol division; 11 deputies, an office assistant and a maintenance worker in the detention center; and four private security guards to monitor metal detectors in county courts.


Mades also requested 10 patrol cars at a cost of $206,000.

In all, Mades asked for $7.8 million, for a $971,283 increase over the current year's funding.

He said the Sheriff's Department handled 12.1 percent more crimes in 1996 than the previous year, according to Uniform Crime Report statistics.

Mades said if Hagerstown City Police drive drug dealers for city streets and into the county, the caseload will increase even more. Mades also said some deputies will be needed to police the Fort Ritchie area after the Army moves out.

The federal government would pay for 75 percent of the salaries and benefits for eight deputies in the patrol division for three years. Cost to the county would be about $61,000 in salaries and benefits in the first year.

At the Washington County Detention Center, a booming population is creating an "unmanageable" situation, Mades said. In the past year assaults between inmates have jumped 21 percent, he said.

The prisoner population averaged 336 in January 1997 and jumped to 433 in December 1997. The average for the year was 407 inmates.

Mades said he surveyed four other Maryland counties - Charles, Frederick, Howard and Harford - and found each was spending at least $2.2 million more a year on their jails than Washington County despite having fewer inmates.

The four private security guards could free up deputies for other jobs in the courts, Mades said.

Four prisoners have escaped in recent months, in part because he doesn't always have enough people to have two deputies drive inmates to the courts, Mades said.

The sheriff said he needed someone who would place a priority on managing the department's computers. Computer problems can go unresolved for days because county computer employees are either too busy or not available, Mades said.

Commissioner John S. Shank said he didn't think a new computer person necessarily should report to the sheriff, but said he could see a need for someone to be on call.

The sheriff also requested $99,400 to provide a shift differential for evening and midnight shift workers. Evening workers would get an extra 32 cents an hour, and midnight shift workers would get an extra 54 cents an hour.

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