Town decides to keep local
(1/6/2005) The Town of Thurmont is starting the new
year with a mandate from residents -- keep the town's police department.
At Tuesday's town meeting, the board voted to keep its
department rather than replacing it with contracted deputies from the Frederick
County Sheriff's Office.
The decision was made after two public hearings on the
matter and consideration of e-mails and phone calls from residents, they said.
In November 2004, the board announced it was looking
into the benefits of contracting with the Sheriff's Office for police support
and potentially closing the Thurmont Police Department.
Town officials argued that years of problems fully
staffing the department and recent injuries that sidelined officers made the
board consider alternative ways to protect residents.
Temporarily contracting with the county to hire two
deputies to fill a void was first considered, but later rejected because the
town's police officers opposed the idea.
They said they could do overtime to handle the
During talks with Sheriff James W. Hagy (R), the idea
of a replacement of the town's department was suggested and town leaders
decided to consider that as a possibility.
The town has eight police employees, including one
chief, one lieutenant, two sergeants, three officers and one administrative
assistant. Two new police recruits began an eight-month training program
earlier this week. Once they graduate, they can begin working in the Thurmont
The department has a budget for 12 staff members.
On Dec. 16, the town's board of commissioners held the
first of two public meetings on the matter.
About 65 people attended, and, when polled, nearly all
raised their hands to indicate they wanted the department to stay.
Comments in support of the department that night were
echoed at Tuesday's town meeting.
Nearly 35 people attended this week's meeting and
nearly all raised their hands again to indicate they wanted to keep the
Residents said they wanted to keep the town's police
department so the town could maintain control over the costs and level of
service, and maintain the personal service the department is known for.
The board voted unanimously to keep the department.
Commissioner Bill Blakeslee was absent due to illness, Mayor Martin Burns said.
Following the vote, the board considered its next move
in regard to getting a new station for the police.
Burns has said repeatedly that he wants the town to
look at a plan for all town facilities, not just the police department.
The board asked the town clerk and police commissioners
to bring information on the needs of the department and ideas for locations for
the police department.
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