More troopers on the way

Maryland State Police will add three road troopers and a supervisor to the Hagerstown barrack in March.

Maryland State Police will add three road troopers and a supervisor to the Hagerstown barrack in March.

January 06, 2003|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN - Maryland State Police will add more road troopers and another supervisor to the Hagerstown barrack this spring in response to community concerns over the declining number of troopers in recent years, Western Region Commander Major Vernon Herron said Friday.

Herron said three new road troopers and a supervisor will start working at the Hagerstown barrack the first week of March. The employees will be seasoned officers who live in or near the county and have requested transfers to the Hagerstown barrack, he said.

A class of 49 troopers who graduated in December freed other troopers to transfer to Hagerstown, Herron said.

"We plan on getting them to work as soon as they get here," Herron said.

The new officers will bring the number of road troopers at the Hagerstown barrack to 29. With the new supervisor, the barrack will have 41 sworn officers, he said.


In November, the Washington County Commissioners said the number of road troopers had been declining for a number of years. That claim was at first disputed by a state police spokesman at the Pikesville, Md., headquarters who said the number of troopers had remained at about 40 since at least 1998.

Two weeks later, organizational charts obtained by The Herald-Mail showed the number of road troopers at the barrack had dropped from 30 in April 1998 to 21 last September.

The commissioners had said the decrease in road troopers placed a burden on the Washington County Sheriff's Department to pick up additional calls.

"I think any increase in additional police personnel is certainly going to benefit the county as a whole,"Sheriff Charles F. Mades said. "I know the work is here."

Herron said the number of road troopers had dropped because the state police created specialty units to focus on specific crimes such as homicides. Troopers were tapped from all jurisdictions to form the specialty units and barracks across the state saw decreases due to transfers and promotions, he said.

County Commissioner John Munson said Friday he's pleased the barrack is getting more troopers, but adding three is not enough. He said the barrack at one point had 40 road troopers.

"They've got to get back up to 40 where they were before," Munson said. "They should be up to strength to where they belong instead of putting the burden on us."

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said Herron's announcement was good news for the county.

"I think it's certainly a movement in the right direction," Wivell said.

He said he would like to meet with Herron to discuss additional staffing issues.

Herron said the commissioners were right to voice their concerns and he hopes to lobby for more troopers. He also said he intends to meet with the commissioners.

"We want to make our highways safer for all of us," he said. "I'm always concerned about the welfare of our troopers and our citizens."

Herron said the additional troopers will allow the barrack to strongly enforce one of its goals: to eliminate the number of fatal accidents in the county in 2003. The county had 26 fatal accidents in 2002, up from 13 in 2001.

"My goal is not to reduce fatal accidents; my goal is to eliminate them," Herron said. "If you're saying you're going to reduce them, you're saying it's OK to have fatal accidents. It's not OK."

Troopers will use unmarked cars to help enforcement and will crack down on people not wearing seat belts.

"We will not be giving any more warnings for not wearing seat belts," Herron said. "We will be giving citations."

The Herald-Mail Articles