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Commission recommends town halt further annexations till police force can catch up

Tara Buck

Members of the townís Police Commission have recommended the town halt further annexations until the police department has time to "catch up" to the growth that has already occurred.

Police Commission member Stacy Brown Hobbs told the mayor and town commissioners Tuesday night that the department is only at 58 percent capacity with officers, out of 12 total positions.

"Now, that covers all of our shifts, and thatís all it does," Ms. Hobbs said.

The commission has recommended that the town more aggressively advertise its openings on the police force and that greater recruitment and retention efforts should be made to attract new officers, in addition to its recommendation to halt further annexations "until the police force is at 100 percent capacity."

Mayor Martin Burns said he understood the commissionís frustration and that he didnít anticipate the townís hiring freeze to last beyond this fiscal year.

"I want to stress that we donít necessarily like the fact the police force is where itís at," Mr. Burns said.

He said that most area police academies wonít hold graduations until June or July, about the time the hiring freeze should end.

Mr. Burns also said the commissioners would look into the Police Commissionís recommendations "in the future."

In other business, town commissioner William Blakeslee announced that a workshop meeting was held Monday night with "a developer representing a large supermarket chain that is interested in putting a 65,000-square foot supermarket in Thurmont."

Mr. Blakeslee said the store "will be nice," and needs space for parking for 165 vehicles, about 12 acres and "as close to (U.S.) 15 as possible."

"We will work with them very aggressively to help like we would any business thatís going to bring jobs to town," Mr. Blakeslee said.

The commissioners also appointed Sandra Hunter to fill one remaining vacancy on the townís planning commission.

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