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Police Academy class set for August

July 22, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail

News of a Maryland State Police Academy class starting in August, albeit a month later than usual, could be a great help to several barracks around the state, including one in Washington County.

There had been some uncertainty about whether an academy session would be held in 2003.

Maryland State Police spokesman Maj. Greg Shipley said a sixth-month training class for potential troopers will begin on Aug. 4.

Despite speculation there would be no summer academy because of a state funding shortfall, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich approved funding for the class earlier this month, Shipley said.

Shipley said state police supervisors across the state were excited about the support from the administration.

"Because of budget constraints, there was not a class in January nor July," Shipley said. "We didn't know if we would have a class at all this year. Obviously, this was a concern of our superintendent and the governor."

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Shipley said he did not know there would be a class until about two weeks ago.

The last class began last summer and graduated 55 troopers in December 2002, according to Shipley. He said there typically are two classes per year, starting in January and early July.

The upcoming class is considered large, with 66 prospective troopers scheduled to attend, according to Shipley.

Barracks in need likely will get between one and three new troopers by early 2004 depending on size, current vacancies and the amount of calls received, Shipley said.

Capt. Rob Turano of the Hagerstown barracks praised the governor's decision to fund the academy. Turano said although new troopers would not be ready to take to the road until spring 2004 at the earliest, a new class could help barracks like Hagerstown cope with pending staffing problems.

The local barracks is two officers short because of military leave, and another three could retire as soon as year's end, Turano said.

"There would be some serious concerns with how we staffed and handled calls for service" if the barracks was short by five troopers, Turano said. "The burden would be significant."

Turano said there currently are 46 sworn troopers under the umbrella of the Hagerstown barracks, including those on a DEA task force and members of the investigations unit. Turano declined to confirm the number of troopers who are active in patrolling state roads.

The Herald-Mail previously obtained information indicating the number of road troopers working out of the local barracks had dropped to 21 as of September despite a previous state police spokesman's claim that there were 40.

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