Carroll can continue to employ state police as its main law enforcement branch even if the state withdraws its 25 percent share of the financing, said an assistant attorney general in a letter to a Carroll delegate.
Del. Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, requested theopinion to ensure that the state would continue the Resident TrooperProgram. The program was launched in 1968 to assist local jurisdictions in their law enforcement efforts.
Since 1973, counties have paid 75 percent of the program. State financing probably will be cut this year -- perhaps permanently -- because of budget considerations. A bill has been introduced to change the financing formula so that counties would pay 100 percent of the cost.
Carroll employs 44 of the 66 resident troopers statewide, and another four are employed by Mount Airy.
Elliott said he was concerned that the state police superintendent would dissolve the Westminster barracks and reassign the resident troopers.
Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe wrote: "It is my view that if Carroll County picks up the state share of the funding, the program could continueas it now exists with control in the Westminster barracks commander."
The opinion did not address the issues of administration, facilities or equipment. But Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, who serves on a House law enforcement subcommittee, said he expects the state to continue providing police aid to Carroll for such purposes, as it does to jurisdictions with their own police forces.
A county committee is studying whether to create a county police force or continue with the state-administered program.
Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, and a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee, supported maintaining the state-administered force.
"It seemsthe way to go in this day and age," he said. "To cut costs, we should use the facilities, administration and communications for as long as possible."
MATTHEWS CHANGES VOTE
ANNAPOLIS -- Del. Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, changed his long-standing "no"vote on mandatory motorcycle helmets this year, but not without making a pitch.
Before casting his vote, he called on the governor to change his thinking on spending issues.
Matthews said he struggledwith his conscience before voting, adding that the governor could make some decisions that wouldn't require as much soul-searching.
Matthews had voted against the bill for years, saying it restricted individual freedom, but decided to vote for it this year because it would make Maryland eligible for additional federal highway money. It also was recommended by a governor's commission to save money otherwise required to treat accident victims.
The Schaefer administration lobbied Matthews for the vote, he said.
The bill passed the Judiciary Committee, 14-8.
HAINES SEEKS GUARANTEE
ANNAPOLIS -- Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, has introduced abill that would amend the state constitution, guaranteeing Marylanders the right to keep and bear arms "for the defense of self, family, home and state and for hunting and recreational use."
ATV BILL RETURNS
ANNAPOLIS -- Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, will try for a seventh year to have legislation passed requiring the registration and licensing of all-terrain vehicles, which have caused destruction to property.