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Chief prefers outdoor work

September 14, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HANCOCK - T.J. Buskirk was well on his way to becoming a pharmacist when he decided that career just wasn't for him.

"I had always wanted to be a police officer," Buskirk said. So he went for it.

Now Buskirk is Hancock police chief, having taken over in May when former chief Steven McCarty was unable to juggle that position and his new responsibilities as an Episcopal deacon.

McCarty is now employed as a deputy with the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Buskirk and his brother, Scott, went through the Western Maryland Police Academy together in 2002. T.J. joined the Hancock Police in January 2002 and Scott is a Washington County Sheriff's Department deputy 1st class.

And as if there weren't enough police officers in the family, T.J. Buskirk is married to the former Valerie Weaver, a deputy 1st class. Her brother, Danny Weaver, is a Maryland State Police corporal.

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The new Hancock chief is 28 years old. Born and raised in Hancock, he graduated from Hancock Middle-Senior High School and the Allegany College of Maryland in Cumberland where he earned an associate degree in pre-pharmacy.

"I'm an outside person," the new chief said. "Being inside all day is not for me."

While he must do administrative work in the police department office, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and meet with citizens and do police work.

He also needs to get outside to keep his K-9 partner happy. Rambo is a German Shepherd who has worked with Buskirk since 2004.

While the chief is in his office, Rambo spends time in Buskirk's cruiser where the temperature is maintained year round.

And when he does venture into the office, there is a large box of dog biscuits on the filing cabinet for Rambo.

Bred in Hungary and trained with Buskirk in Pennsylvania, Rambo is a key player in Buskirk's goal to rid Hancock of the drug problem he describes as moderate but on the rise.

Buskirk, Rambo and the other four "human" officers in Hancock are all very knowledgeable about drugs which the chief said is key in getting a handle on the problem.

"We are at full strength right now so I can be a working chief," Buskirk said. That means handling administrative duties and paperwork in addition to cruising the town on patrol or handling specials events.

Another problem Buskirk plans to crack down on is speeding through the town.

Buskirk said the Hancock mayor and council have been very supportive of the police department and he expects that to continue.

"Our office is open and I am accessible to the public - my door is always open," Buskirk said of the citizens of Hancock. "I will listen to their needs."

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