State troopers in Westminster were ordered yesterday to report to Barracks G at the beginning of their patrol shifts, a move designed to enhance communication between command staff and those on road patrol.
Sgt. J. W. Long, the morning shift commander yesterday, said the 7 a.m. roll call was the first held at the barracks and it went smoothly.
Long said he couldn't resist borrowing a line from "Hill Street Blues," a television show in the 1980s. He ended the roll call saying, "Hey, let's be careful out there."
"It was given half in jest, but with a certain amount of seriousness, too," he said.
The incoming shift was given an update on investigations, including descriptions of suspects being sought and developments in outstanding cases.
"Roll calls can also be used for general housekeeping, for instance, passing on new regulations to the troops," Long said.
Sharing information has always been routine, but mandatory roll calls will ensure that troopers on each shift receive updates daily.
In the past, Westminster troopers, who serve as Carroll County's primary police force, have begun their workday from the moment they left home in their patrol cars. Troopers were not first required to report to the barracks.
Troopers will be on duty as they travel from home to the barracks for roll calls and will continue to handle calls for service and other incidents they might happen upon as they drive to the barracks, said 1st Sgt. Eric Danz.
Because troopers work overlapping 10-hour shifts, most should be present for roll calls, he said.
Troopers' written reports for continuing investigations and traffic accidents are routinely dropped off at the barracks nearly every day, so roll calls should not present a major inconvenience, Long noted.
Daily roll calls are used by most law enforcement agencies, and Lt. Terry Katz, barracks commander in Westminster, decided to implement them. He attended the first roll call, but left soon after to attend a funeral and was not available to comment, Long said.
Eventually, when each trooper has a laptop computer and is trained to use it, roll calls might not be as necessary, Danz said.
Westminster troopers have access to laptops purchased with grant money, but the software needs refinement before training begins, he said.