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November 5, 2013

Merge the Police and Sheriff's Office

Harry M. Covert

As the City of Frederick marches on after today's balloting, and the county looks forward to a charter form of leadership, perhaps some consolidation of services should be considered.


Political watchers, wags and wagesses (sic) are always touting money-saving efforts. Blabbing both pro and con is always a good topic to consider wastes in every corner of the public budgets. Thus, what are the best interests of taxpayers? Well, that's merely an opinion, of course.


Today's question?


Has anyone thought about merging the Frederick Police Department with the county’s Sheriff's Office? Why not?


Along with the county's firefighting and emergency services, probably the most important agencies are law enforcement.


Each is given the gigantic task of keeping the peace and safety. For the record, each has been established as first-rate, qualified in every way with all of the modern technology needed.


By why have two agencies?


Combining city police and the sheriff's office could save lots of money and stop lots of duplication of efforts. This probably won't be popular with the city government or the sheriff and the deputies.


Those charged criminally in the city are tried in county courts. Same holds true county-wide.


From this view, city patrols, detectives, traffic and others could easily be transferred to the Sheriff's Department. The latter already has patrols, detectives, traffic deputies and operates the county jail, nicely named the Detention Center.


Whenever the president visits Camp David in Thurmont, included in the heavy security, on the highway and in the air, is the Sheriff's Department. This agency received high marks when international leaders converged for a summit.


From some inquiries, no print and broadcast reporters and their crews were nabbed for speeding, creating disturbances or trying to invade the presidential retreat, formerly known as Shangri-La.


Rather than further attempts to cut back book purchases for the library system, budgeteers should have more money for the latest technology, just like the police agencies.


This consolidation suggestion is not a criticism in any way to the police department and its team. There is always close cooperation between the agencies.


When high-ranking police commanders retire from their Frederick City duties, they almost always suddenly become partisan politicians and decide to run for either the city’s Board of Aldermen or want to campaign up and down the county byways for the Smokey-the-bear hat and golden star. That seems like double-dipping at the public trough and is entirely legal.


While all other good citizens are denied the right to carry concealed weapons, they can put on their own Glocks, Smith & Wessons and Sig Sauer's, if they latch on to a sheriff's position.


This proposal will have lots of disagreement on all sides, mainly I expect, from both the current police chief, who waited long and hard for the job, and the much-elected sheriff, who's been on the job a long time.


From this standpoint, there is no need for either the aldermen or Board of County Commissioners to spend any public funds for a study of this suggestion. Just make an up or down decision with the idea to be good stewards of public funds.


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