Town residents meet police at first-time event

The Smithsburg Police Department hosted "Meet the Police Night" to show residents that officers are "on their side."

The Smithsburg Police Department hosted "Meet the Police Night" to show residents that officers are "on their side."

May 26, 2006|by TARA REILLY

SMITHSBURG - Hunter Wiles leaned over a table at the Smithsburg Police Department Thursday night and pointed to a shotgun that was on display.

"I like that thing," the 5-year-old said.

"We try not to use that much," Chief Michael S. Potter joked.

Hunter - who was wearing a toy police helmet, badge and pager - was among several Smithsburg-area residents who attended "Meet the Police Night" at the department on West Water Street.

His father, Paul, said Hunter wants to become a police officer.

Hunter said he likes the police "because they help people."

The table that grabbed Hunter's attention contained a number of weapons and equipment, including handcuffs, a portable radio, a Taser, pepper spray, a protective vest, tactical helmet and a preliminary breath tester.

Potter explained the reasons for their use.

For example, he said police officers use Tasers on suspects who don't listen.

"And they will do anything you want," Potter joked. "They will bark like a dog ... anything you want."


Another table displayed more police equipment, illegal drugs and homemade weapons police confiscated from suspects.

Potter then directed attention to a short, thick pole bolted to the floor near the officers' workstations.

He called the pole a "prisoner holder." Police attach people who have been arrested to the holder with handcuffs before they're transported to the Sheriff's Department.

The prisoner holder is used in place of cells at the Smithsburg Police Department. Potter said it's not uncommon for some police stations to have cells because of liability issues.

"You're responsible for that prisoner." Potter said.

Officer Mike Neuland demonstrated the use a stationary radar gun on cars driving past the police department. He explained to a few children that had gathered that an invisible beam comes out of the gun and locks in the speed of a passing vehicle.

Potter said the first-time event was held to introduce the department's two new officers and help make residents comfortable around police.

"Plus, we want to (show) the citizens we're on their side," Potter said. "For any town, citizens' help is instrumental."

He said the department also wanted to show that the officers are professional and qualified, which isn't always the perception of police who work in small towns.

"Police in small towns have to meet the same qualifications as in large cities," Potter said.

The Herald-Mail Articles