The office is now tasked with maintaining the sex offender registration in the county, and is also responsible for policing pawn shops and precious metal dealers in the county — including tracking these businesses' purchases and entering them into a state-wide database.

"We also have the ability to check with (pawn shops) and see if any stolen goods are going through their shops, or if they are violating the law," said Tregoning. "That was all formerly done by the Maryland State Police."

In tandem with these changes, the county's Emergency Call Center has been beefed up with eight additional hires, and its operational protocol has been streamlined.

"Now the calls are retained in the center," Kasten said. "The caller is not passed along (to a particular police force). The dispatcher routes ... information (to) the closest available law enforcement resource."

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However, as has been the practice previously, "If an officer cannot respond, other agencies will help."

However, 911 callers do have the option of requesting a response from a particular law enforcement agency, according to a release on the Carroll County Sheriff's Office web site.

Residents seeking non-emergency police service still have the option of calling directly to either the Sheriff's Office or the Maryland State Police barrack.

"We rehearsed this thing before it was implemented in order to minimize any difficulties, conflicts or misunderstandings," Tregoning said.

Tregoning also noted that the commissioners recently authorized his office to hire an additional crime scene technician, who will work out of the agency's northern office, in Hampstead.

But the county will continue to rely on the state police for most crime analysis.

"Some analysis we can do in our northern office," the sheriff said. "But there are still certain pieces of evidence, such as blood samples, firearms and bullets that have to be sent to the state police crime lab for analysis."

Attitude of change

Obviously Tregoning welcomes his department's heightened presence; for years he has lobbied for it.

In fact, the sheriff has been expanding the reach of his office since he was first elected in 1998. When he was sworn in as sheriff that year, the office had 34 deputies.

By 2007, he'd more than doubled the number, to 71 deputies.

"When (now retired Chief Deputy Col. Robert Keefer) and I came into office, we went full service," Tregoning said in a 2007 interview with The Eagle. "I knew that Carroll was very low on the ratio of law officers per thousand (residents)."

Under the county's transition plan, 14 additional deputies will be added to the Sheriff's Office and 15 troopers will be transferred out of the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack each year until 2013, when the transition is completed.

Tregoning fully expects the remainder of the intra-agency transition to unfold as smoothly as it has thus far.

"The professionalism, particularly in the front lines, between both agencies in the past several weeks is unparalleled to anything I've seen anywhere," Tregoning said with a hint of pride.

"We've had the expertise and the right personnel in place to ensure cooperation and ensure a smart transition and not ruffle any feathers while we were doing it," he said.

"The paramount objective for us at this point is to ensure that the response of resident's requests for service not decline, and, if anything, it improves," Kasten said. "That is what all of us have been working hard for."