Carroll County officials approved yesterday hiring five patrol deputies and six correctional officers, a move that will lead to sheriff's deputies providing around-the-clock coverage on local roads.
The additional $500,000 will be paid with federal dollars earned by housing immigrants awaiting deportation at Carroll County Detention Center in Westminster, a contractual agreement the county began with the federal government in February, said Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning.
The additional hires will mean increased patrol of Carroll County - augmenting Maryland State Police and municipal police efforts, Tregoning said.
The new positions are part of Tregoning's five-year law enforcement master plan, which he presented to the county commissioners in March.
He has recommended hiring 38 deputies over the next five years to provide around-the-clock coverage to meet the county's growing population and increased demands on the detention center.
"I'm very pleased the commissioners have seen fit to approve some of these new hires so quickly," said Tregoning, who with Lt. Terry Katz, state police commander in Westminster, joined the county commissioners in announcing the new positions yesterday morning.
In February, the county began an opened-ended contract with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to temporarily house federal detainees at the detention center.
The county collects $63 a day in federal money for each INS detainee.
The agreement began with 14 detainees, and the jail now houses about 50, officials said. Once jail renovations are completed, 70 federal detainees will be accepted, county officials said.
Since February, the county has billed INS for $335,000, Tregoning said. The projected income from the INS through June 2001 - the end of the current fiscal year - is about $1.3 million, meaning "the new hires won't cost the taxpayers a penny," the sheriff said.
That revenue should increase to more than $1.6 million when 70 detainees are held daily in the detention center, Tregoning said.
Applications for the new deputy positions are being reviewed from among about 30 candidates, he said. Those selected will begin training next month at the first police academy to be offered at Carroll Community College.
Tregoning stressed the law enforcement initiatives are intended to support and not supplant the state police Resident Troopers program, which has been the county's primary police force for 25 years.
With the additional deputies, Tregoning predicted his agency would provide 24-hour patrol coverage daily. With current staffing, his office does not have deputies on patrol after 2 a.m. weekdays, or on weekends.
Katz said the state police would welcome the extra support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, especially for the safety of his troopers working the night shift.
"We're pleased the Carroll County commissioners are providing their support in enhancing public safety," Katz said. "It's one thing to say you are going to do it, but another to come through when it's time to do it.
"They have done it," he said, referring to the commissioners' increased support this year for law enforcement efforts, including the new positions, a central booking unit and assigning full-time deputies to the state police barracks for investigative work and speed enforcement.