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Hagerstown won't hire more police officers

August 17, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The Hagerstown Police Department will not get more officers, but more money may be available to pay the existing officers to work longer hours, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Tuesday.

Speaking during a City Council work session, the top-ranking city police officers in the city's Street Crime Unit and the Washington County Narcotics Task Force said that each of the special units need four to six additional officers.

"There are not enough people to respond to all the complaints," said Sgt. Rick Johnson, a member of the nine-member drug task force.

Johnson said that because they don't have enough officers, the people who call them to report suspicious activity get frustrated.

Street Crime Unit supervisor Sgt. John Ryder asked the Mayor and City Council to set up another five-member unit so that drug sting operations could be conducted more often.

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The Street Crime Unit often goes undercover posing as buyers or sellers of illegal drugs.

The mayor said there wasn't enough money in the city's budget to hire additional officers. Instead, Bruchey said he would look into whether the city could get additional money through federal grants to pay existing officers to work more overtime hours.

Several residents spoke during the police presentation Tuesday.

One man said there is a need to rehabilitate drug users so that the drug dealers lose their market.

Another man suggested that landlords be held responsible for drug dealing on their properties.

A woman said the area needs better jobs.

A Jonathan Street resident said that the late-night activities in her neighborhood were a "disgrace" and "embarrassing."

Johnson said the police can't solve the drug problem alone. He said it is important for the city to support drug rehabilitation programs, education programs for children and teens, and education programs for landlords.

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