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After years of discussion, several changes in public policy course and an election cycle where options were hotly debated — the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office will officially become the principal provider of law enforcement in Carroll on July 1.

The move marks a phasing out of the Resident Trooper Program in Carroll, through which Maryland State Police had been the primary law enforcement agency under a contract with the county.

The move has been years in the political wrangling, but just a few months in the hard formation — on Feb. 22, a memorandum of understanding formalizing the move was signed between the Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland State Police and the county's Office of Public Safety Support Services. 

The agreement — backed by the Board of County Commissioners — increases the responsibilities of the Sheriff’s Office, establishes a timetable to increase staffing and provides for a transition of duties.

In 2007-08, the then-Board of County Commissioners nearly chose another path, pursuing the creation of a Carroll County police force — with an appointed police chief, rather than the elected sheriff — to take over primary law enforcement.

The move triggered a backlash from many residents and opposition from the county's delegation to Annapolis, and the commissioners' plan dissolved.

Then, in December 2010 — just weeks after a new Board of County Commissioners with five new members took office — that board voted to make the  Sheriff’s Office the primary law enforcement agency with a plan to replace 45 state troopers with 42 new deputies over three years.

The commissioners voted unanimously on a resolution to implement the program with a three-year transition beginning July 1, 2011.
The Sheriff's Office said this week that aspects of the agreement include:

• Maryland State Police will continue to address incidents and calls for service on state or federal highways and related properties; excluding municipalities with a police agency. 

• The Sheriff’s Office will assume the primary responsibility for responding to all calls requiring police service at Carroll County owned or operated institutions and facilities, county owned roadways, and residential areas excluding municipalities.

• The public will continue to dial 911 when requiring police service. The Emergency Call Center Dispatcher will route calls to the appropriate agency.
 
• Citizens requiring police service for nonemergency matters may contact the Sheriff’s Office directly at 410-386-2900, or the State Police Westminster Barrack at 410-386-3000.

• Citizens in a local municipality can contact their law enforcement agencies for issues that do not require immediate police response.

• When calling from a cell phone, give your current location to the dispatcher so the proper agency can be dispatched.
 
The Sheriff’s Office will also assume the task of monitoring registered sex offenders and Precious Metal Object Dealers and Pawn Brokers within the area.  Effective July 1, 2012 the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office will also coordinate the local Drug Abuse Resistance and Education (D.A.R.E.) program.

— Jim Joyner

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is the move from Maryland State Police to the Sheriff's Office as lead law enforcement in Carroll a good idea? Would a county police force have been better? Should we have stayed with the Maryland State Police Resident Trooper Program?

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