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From the Desk of
Town Commissioner Chris Staiger

(2/11) Ah, the middle of winter… I guess the one good thing is the absence of snow – at least compared to this time last year. I will admit to being disappointed that we haven’t had even one sixty degree day since Thanksgiving, though! Regardless, I hope you and yours are weathering the season. (Apologies to those who ski, snowboard, or enjoying tubing up the road!)

Any commissioner who pondered reducing coverage by the Resident Deputies in November (and, yes, that would include me…) probably feels better for not having done so. In the end, I made up my mind against the reduction because even though our budget will probably decline for the fourth straight year, we have been able to continue to fund such core expenditures that benefit the community without raiding the "rainy day" fund. I have trouble cutting public services when we choose to increase overhead costs by $60,000 per year and use $123,000 from the "rainy day" fund to create new employee benefits over the same period.

We were fortunate that increased patrols by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the apprehension of two juvenile suspects who may have been largely responsible for the dozen break-ins at local businesses from around Thanksgiving to just after New Year’s. We can legitimately hope that this will end the current crime spree against businesses and serve as a deterrent to other opportunists who would take advantage of dark corners and unprotected premises.

The Community Deputies have organized a monthly forum from 6-7pm on the third Monday of every month at the Vigilant Hose Company in an effort to increase communication with the community. The first meeting on January 17 was a big success with over twenty people present. Most of the concerns expressed by the public dealt with questions over the level of coverage and prevention of crime.

The deputies described their efforts to reduce overlap in schedules as much as possible while re-focusing resources on areas identified as trouble spots. I estimate it would take a thirty percent increase in property taxes to generate the income necessary to contract two additional officers that might (just?) allow for something close to 24/7 coverage through a resident deputy program. Certainly, we already have "basic" coverage through the Sheriff’s Office when the resident deputies are not in town – but we don’t necessarily have anyone patrolling the streets and response times are longer.

The deputies also focused on prevention measures that business owners and homeowners could take to reduce their exposure. Motion activated lights were recommended as one way to alert patrolling deputies that something might be up at a business location that is normally dark. Homeowners were encouraged to lock their car doors and close garage doors at night to reduce the chance of crimes of opportunity by juveniles snatching objects that can be quickly exchanged for cash. The possibility of making a second effort to establish a Community Watch Program was also identified.

Regardless, the deputies wanted everyone to know that you should report suspicious activity. They want you to know that the small details or observations may not seem critical, but they could be the missing piece of a larger puzzle or pattern. These gentlemen have been working in our community for some time now. They know a lot about our community but maybe not as much as "us" in some instances… They don’t want you to be embarrassed to contact them! If you do have questions, comments, or concerns – please attend one of their meetings. These ‘forums’ are informal events and the floor is open for discussion of any item related to their service. Please make an effort to attend.

Sincerely, Chris Staiger

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