Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday that his budget proposal for the state police would boost the number of new troopers -- and, in turn, beef up units to fight illegal gun trafficking, computer crime and auto theft.
Glendening, who had previously said he would include a 10 percent raise for state troopers in the budget submitted to legislators next month, outlined his priorities for troopers at a swearing-in ceremony for 55 graduates of the agency's training academy. Under his proposal, 75 trooper candidates would enter the academy next month, and another class of 75 would enter in July.
He said the budget also would include $6.5 million in aid to local police agencies.
State police officials are "elated" by the governor's budget proposal, said Michael J. McKelvin, a police spokesman.
"This is something the Maryland State Police have not seen in many years, where we have gotten up-front commitments on personnel, equipment and a pay hike," McKelvin said.
He said the budget proposal would allow the state police to buy many as 200 new vehicles and remove high-mileage cruisers from the road.
In most years the budget allows one academy class of about 50 troopers -- just enough to offset attrition, said Sgt. Laura Lu Herman, another state police spokesman. For a few years, starting in 1992, the academy had no classes, Herman said.
An influx of new troopers into patrol assignments would allow veterans to be transferred into three specialized units -- and bring the force, now at 1,703 members, close to its peak of 1,800, McKelvin said.
McKelvin said Operation Maryland Cease Fire, the unit that fights gun trafficking, would be increased from five to 10 troopers. The unit, about 18 months old, has seized more than 1,000 guns, he said.
The Computer Crimes Unit, which tracks fraud, child pornography and other crimes committed with computers, would increase from four to eight troopers, McKelvin said.
"Because we are just on the fringe of what we see as a new era in crime, that unit will be increased," he said.
The Auto Theft Unit, now made up of six troopers, would at least double in size. McKelvin said auto theft is the fastest rising category of crime in Maryland.
Pub Date: 12/14/96