Police fate lies with town
Discussion about the office used by the Thurmont Police
Department turned quickly to a debate about the fate of the department at
Tuesday's regular town meeting.
Thurmont Police Commission member Thomas Iaccarino told the town board of
commissioners that the Police Commission had two recommendations to make. The
first was not to disband the town's police department, and the second was for
the town's board to support proceeding with researching and planning new
facilities for the police.
Iaccarino was referring, in his first recommendation, to a meeting Nov. 11
between town commissioners, police officers, and Frederick County Sheriff James
Hagy (R). During the meeting, attendees discussed dissolving the town's police
department in favor of a contractual arrangement with the Sheriff's Office for
"resident deputies" to patrol the area.
Resident deputies are used in some municipalities that do not have their own
police departments. The town hires officers through the Sheriff's Office, and
those officers report to the town on police activity. The officers would be
employees of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office.
In his second recommendation, Iaccarino referred to work done by the Police
Commission to determine how to better hire and retain police officers. The
commission recently told town leaders that new facilities was the No. 1
priority to accomplish that goal. The current facilities are too small and new
ones are needed for safety, legal compliance and overall efficiency, the
But during Tuesday's meeting, Mayor Martin Burns and Commissioners Bill
Blakeslee and Wayne Hooper said they could not, in good conscience, approve
spending any money to plan a new police facility until they decided whether or
not to replace the department with resident deputies.
Burns said it is too early to make a decision about whether dissolving the
department is best for the town. Hooper and Blakeslee agreed, and said they
wanted to consider all of the information and public feedback before forming a
Commissioner Glenn Muth has said he does not support dissolving the
During public comments on the matter, resident John Kinnaird urged the board
not to get rid of the police department and to move forward with plans for a
new facility for the police department.
Kinnaird said using the Sheriff's Office might present its own problems. He
said the "scariest thing" about using deputies was that the town would lose
control over the officers and the costs.
"Six weeks ago I ... never thought I would be sitting here listening to our
board of commissioners talking about getting rid of our police department," he
said. "If you're doing this for budgetary reasons, there's actually no reason
that in the future Frederick County may [not] have some budgetary problems
themselves and decide to cut back our services or increase our rates beyond
what we can afford to pay."
Burns said the only reason the town created its own police department in the
first place was because it "wanted more than the county could offer."
It's not the responsibility of any municipality to provide police
protection," he said.