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Town police officer suspended

Jeremy Hauck
The Gazette

(2/29) Thurmont officials are investigating whether a town police officer provided alcohol to minors earlier this year, according to Police Chief Gregory L. Eyler

Eyler asked last week that the officer not be named until the investigation is complete. The officer is suspended with pay while the investigation continues. It was sparked by a complaint from the Thurmont Community Ambulance Service, he said.

The officer allegedly supplied alcohol to the minors at a banquet. Eyler believes no relationship existed between the officer and the minors.

The news comes on the heels of the resignation on Feb. 10 of Lt. Shawn R. Tyler, Eyler’s second-in-command. Tyler resigned a day after Thurmont commissioners voted unanimously to open a criminal investigation of a town employee, though they did not say who the employee was.

The town would not provide a copy of Tyler’s resignation without a written request, said William H. Blakeslee, Thurmont’s chief administrative officer. The Gazette e-mailed Blakeslee Wednesday afternoon requesting a copy of Tyler’s resignation.

Blakeslee also would not provide a phone number for Tyler. Previous attempts to reach Tyler have been unsuccessful.

Tyler told Eyler he was resigning to end the investigation and to avoid bringing shame on the department, Eyler said last week.

The town has dropped its investigation of Tyler, Eyler added.

In January, the Thurmont Police Department disciplined Tyler in writing, Eyler said, because Tyler deleted photographs that the Frederick County state’s attorney’s office said were evidence.

Tyler took photographs of shoes belonging to Daniel D. Jenkins, 18, of Thurmont in August 2007, immediately after Jenkins was jailed on assault charges. Jenkins pleaded guilty to second-degree assault on Feb. 19.

Tyler told the Frederick County state’s attorney’s office about the pictures, but then deleted them. When Assistant State’s Attorney Teresa R. Bean, who was prosecuting Jenkins, demanded the photos, Tyler told her he didn’t believe they were of any value as evidence.

Recruitment overdrive

In the wake of the suspension, Tyler’s resignation and Officer Bill Murray’s having been off duty since at least last summer with cancer, the department has been making do with five officers on patrol, plus Eyler.

The department has positions for 11 officers in addition to the chief, but Eyler on Monday said he has never had that many officers, and neither did his predecessor, in their combined six years in charge.

One recruit is scheduled to join the department in June after training. The department is taking applications for another month, Eyler said, and has so far accepted 10.

Officers will have plenty of extra elbow room in April, when they are expected to move into a new $2 million police station at East Main Street and Westview Drive. The station will be nearly 20 times larger than the department’s current quarters at town hall.

Nevertheless, the town is not paying any extra money for additional coverage by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, and Thurmont officers putting in a minimal amount of overtime, according to Eyler.

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said at a town hall meeting at the Thurmont Community Ambulance Service hall on Feb. 21 that sheriff’s deputies respond to Thurmont officers’ calls for backup and technical or SWAT assistance.

‘‘We work closely together," Jenkins said. ‘‘We’ve got a good relationship."

Deputies have not significantly increased their presence in Thurmont of late, he said.

‘‘It has only been a few [hours]," Jenkins told a small group of residents.

Eyler attended a closed executive session meeting, which Mayor Martin A. Burns said would be about personnel, with Thurmont commissioners on Monday.

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