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Washington County eyes hiring seven additional deputies

April 18, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

HAGERSTOWN - Seven new sheriff's deputies and as many as 10 new emergency service technicians could be hired by Washington County in the next year if the final budget is approved by June.

The Washington County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to budget about $300,000 for additional deputies to patrol the county and supply security at the courthouse.

Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said two of the department deputies will provide armed security for civil court.

"After doing some reading, I found we are responsible for security in both criminal and civil court," he said.

The department provides security to the criminal court by transporting inmates, and guarding the entrance and courtroom.

With altercations and shootings reported at courthouses across the nation, Washington County is working to tighten security in Hagerstown to ensure such events don't happen here.

The board agreed to add two deputies with Commissioner James F. Kercheval saying, "I don't think there is a lot of choice in this matter if we are required by law to provide security."

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In addition to the two judicial security deputies, the board chose to increase the number of deputies patrolling the county.

Employing about 1.13 deputies for every 1,000 residents, Mullendore said the county falls short of the FBI-recommended ratio of 2.6 deputies per 1,000 county residents.

By hiring more patrolmen, the county would offset future population increases and close the gap between its present coverage ratio and what the FBI recommends.

While the board upheld its commitment to public safety by budgeting for more deputies, it chose to take some time to gather information before budgeting almost $600,000 for as many as 10 advanced life support technicians.

County Administrator Gregory Murray said the board will decide on whether to fund the large recurring line item next week.

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