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Maryland State Police display guns, drugs, cash confiscated at traffic stops

April 18, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Firearms, $60,000 in cash and more than 30 pounds of marijuana were among the items that troopers at the Hagerstown barrack of the Maryland State Police said were seized during traffic stops this year in Washington County.

On Thursday, the troopers displayed the items during a press conference to get the word out on Operation Active Response, a program designed to increase the presence of state police on highways in Washington, Frederick, Allegany and Garrett counties.

Sgt. Mike Fluharty of the Hagerstown barrack said the operation has been responsible for about 20,000 traffic stops this year. Firearms are the most common items that troopers seize, but several kinds of drugs have been found as well. In one case, troopers discovered 2 1/2 pounds of crack cocaine inside a bag of dog food, he said.

"All of this stuff comes out of cars that are traveling on our roads," Fluharty said. "These are some of the kinds of things that go up and down our highways in Maryland."

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Fluharty said troopers are stopping vehicles for speeding, equipment violations, following too closely and aggressive driving. If they suspect criminal activity, the troopers investigate the vehicles further, he said. The stops have resulted in more than 70 criminal arrests.

"We're just not stopping cars to write tickets," he said.

By targeting unsafe drivers, Operation Active Response has made the roads safer, Fluharty said. To date, 10 drivers have died on Western Maryland highways, compared with 16 at this time last year.

The first phase of the operation will focus on traffic stops, Fluharty said. The second phase will include criminal warrant sweeps and focus on problem areas in the community.

The operation is being paid for using federal and local grants, Fluharty said.

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