Police increase efforts to be active in Sykesville community

Chief Michael Spaulding and Patrolman Carl Bird complete a patrol check entry at the Sykesville Police Department Aug. 13.
Chief Michael Spaulding and Patrolman Carl Bird complete a patrol check entry at the Sykesville Police Department Aug. 13. (Wiley Hayes, Staff Photo)

Since being named chief of the Sykesville Police Department May 5, Michael Spaulding has made several changes and improvements to the practices of the department.

Perhaps the most drastic change has been the increased police presence in the community, Spaulding said.


During the Sykesville Town Council meeting June 23, which followed his first full month as chief, Spaulding said the department had conducted 115 foot patrols/patrol checks from May 22 to June 18. This was a 29 percent increase from the previous month's crime report from April 10 to May 7, during which they performed 89. As of the most recent crime report, which accounted for activity from July 10 to Aug. 6, the department had conducted 187 foot patrols/patrol checks, which is a 110 percent increase since the month before he was named chief.

"I don't want the cruiser to be a barrier between [the department] and the community," Spaulding said. "I encourage [the officers] to get out on foot, bike, Segway, ATV, to patrol areas that aren't accessible to cruisers."


Patrolman Carl Bird, who's been with the department for a year and a half, said patrols have increased partly due to the construction taking place at South Branch Park, but mostly because of Spaulding's near constant contact with town officials and residents.

"[Spaulding] has come in and evaluated what the department needs, and as he finds out concerns of the town, he pushes them out to us," Bird said.

Spaulding said a large portion of foot patrols/patrol checks are conducted by the Sykesville Auxiliary Police Unit.

Capt. Michael Blair and four other dedicated volunteers make up the auxiliary unit, Spaulding said, and if they weren't here, residents wouldn't see anywhere near that number of patrols.

"They don't carry a gun or make arrests, but [the auxiliary] is a uniform presence," Spaulding said. "They are a tremendous group of people that volunteer their time."

Mayor Ian Shaw agreed with Spaulding, and said the auxiliary doubles the department's members in a sense, from four sworn officers to nine uniformed bodies.

"[The department] couldn't do what they do without them," Shaw said.

An increased police presence was just one concern the town council had at the time of Spaulding's hiring. Spaulding said there were about 10 points which the council wanted him to address during his first year as chief, including personnel changes, resource evaluation and upgrades, response time reduction, and the strengthening of relationships with the community and other law enforcement agencies.

Since becoming chief, he has met with police chiefs from other municipalities on a monthly basis, Spaulding said, to coordinate their efforts and increase data sharing.

Shaw said it is difficult to judge Spaulding's performance in such a short period of time, but he is confident in his ability to address these concerns.

"I think [Spaulding] has been doing a good job at getting acclimated and getting the department up to speed," Shaw said.

Spaulding said he has also pushed for a complete technological overhaul of the department's server system, its in-car cameras and Toughbooks, which are laptops designed for use on patrol and at the station. He also is in the process of revising the performance evaluation system currently in use, and the department is actively pursuing hiring two additional officers.


"Hopefully, we will have one or both on board in the next month or two," Spaulding said. "This will further increase our presence and allow us to provide more thorough around-the-clock coverage of the town."

He has also worked to provide officers with new identification cards, which he said are more valuable than a badge, since badges can be bought online and aren't necessarily proof of being a police officer.

"All of these things will enable us to better provide public safety services," Spaulding said.

Next on Spaulding's to-do list is pursuing an updated record management system. The goal, he said, is for all the municipalities in Carroll County to have the same system, which will allow for a tremendous amount of intelligence sharing, ultimately leading to greater collaboration and cooperation.

"I'm very happy with the way things are going and hopefully, the mayor, council and community will see the results," Spaulding said.

Reach staff writer Wiley Hayes at 410-857-3315 or email him at wiley.hayes@theadvocateofcc.com.

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