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Emmitsburg unlikely to reduce deputies

(11/22) The Emmitsburg Town Council Monday discussed whether or not the members would like to see the municipal contract for deputies altered.

The town presently has a contract with the Frederick County Sheriffís Office to provide three community deputies who patrol the Emmitsburg.

The town disbanded its own police force several decades ago, and relies on county deputies to provided local police protection.

The costs to the town for the three officers is about $330,000 annually, or about $100,000 per deputy.

In addition, the community can be served as needed by one or more county deputies assigned to the north county region.

Mondayís discussion ranged from maintaining the current three-man contract to reducing the agreement two.

During a forum leading up to the September town election, one candidate even suggested re-establishing a town police force, rather than continuing to contract for county deputies.

Mayor James E. Hoover told the council Monday that crime remains minor in the community, but that it was difficult to ascertain if that was due to the nature of the community or the presence of the deputies.

"The crime we have appears to be very minor or petty," he said. Is this because of the deputies, or is it just Emmitsburg?"

He said the only way to determine that would be to reduce the number of deputies, a risk he was unwilling to take.

"I want to keep the three deputies we have now," he said.

Councilman Glenn Blanchard stated, "I donít see this as a dollars and cents issue. Iím not interested in less coverage. If anything, Iím interested in more aggressive coverage."

"I understand budgets are tight," he said, "but Iím not for reducing coverage in the community at this time. This is not something we need to reduce."

Councilman Patrick Joy said, ""We did pay for a third deputy when we had more money. Iíd love to get to (just) two."

"Looking at this group (his fellow council members," he stated, "I donít think that this is going to go anywhere (reducing the number of deputies)."

Resident Karen Poetzsch told the council, "It would be detrimental to decrease the cops. Safety is my first concern in this town."

Resident Arthur Damuth stated, "This is a bad time (to cut police). People are down and out. Theyíre going to do drastic things. Please look out for the town people."

Residents Pamela Sieloff and Karla Slowey also expressed concerns over reduction in the number of community deputies.

Frederick County Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins told the council, "Weíre all sharing the pain (regarding government finances). I understand where you are coming from."

The sheriff did warn the council that it was not going to get any cheaper to contract for county law enforcement.

"The estimated cost (for community deputies) of 2012...This is going to hit you pretty hard," he stated.

The sheriff said, whatever that increase per deputy may be, likely an increase in thousands of dollars per deputy, he would "have to pass it on to the municipalities in the (community deputy) program. I have to control over that."

The council took no official action on the issue Monday evening.

The deputy contract is up for renewal in June. The municipality is required to give the county 30 days notice of any intended changes.

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