After years of discussion, several changes in public policy course and an election cycle where options were hotly debated — the Carroll County Sheriff's Office officially became the principal provider of law enforcement in Carroll on July 1.
The move marks a phasing out of the Resident Trooper Program in Carroll, through which Maryland State Police had been the primary law enforcement agency under a contract with the county.
In February of this year, a memorandum of understanding formalizing the move was signed between the Sheriff's Office, the Maryland State Police and the county's Office of Public Safety Support Services.
The agreement increases the responsibilities of the Sheriff's Office, establishes a timetable to increase staffing and provides for a transition of duties.
In 2007-08, the then-Board of County Commissioners nearly chose another path, pursuing the creation of a Carroll County police force — with an appointed police chief, rather than the elected sheriff — to take over primary law enforcement.
That plan was opposed by some residents — and by the county's delegation to Annapolis — and ultimately dissolved.
Then, in December 2010 — just weeks after a new Board of County Commissioners with five new members took office — that board voted to make the Sheriff's Office the primary law enforcement agency with a plan to replace 45 state troopers with 42 new deputies over three years, starting July 1.
The Sheriff's Office said this week that aspects of the agreement include:
• Maryland State Police will continue to address incidents and calls for service on state or federal highways and related properties; excluding municipalities with a police agency.
• The Sheriff's Office will assume the primary responsibility for responding to all calls requiring police service at county-owned or operated institutions and facilities, county owned roadways, and residential areas excluding municipalities.
• The public will continue to dial 911 when requiring police service. The Emergency Call Center Dispatcher will route calls to the appropriate agency.
Citizens requiring police service for nonemergency matters may contact the Sheriff's Office directly at 410-386-2900, or the State Police Westminster Barrack at 410-386-3000.
As part of the transition, the Sheriff's Office will also assume the task of monitoring registered sex offenders and precious metal object dealers and pawn brokers in the area. Effective July 1, 2012 the Sheriff's Office will also coordinate the Drug Abuse Resistance and Education (DARE) program.
— Jim Joyner