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Thurmont to cut back allowable police force

Stephanie Long
Thurmont Dispatch

(6/19) Faced with a tight budget, the Thurmont town commissioners have been faced with the task of reducing spending to balance the budget, and have thus decided to reduce the size of Thurmont’s police force.

In order to retain proposed salary “steps,” or increases, and retain all current staff, the commissioners voted in favor of a measure to reduce Thurmont’s police force from 12 to 10 sworn officers, which, according to Mayor Marty Burns, was agreeable to Police Chief Gregory Eyler. The police force currently has 11 sworn officers and is expecting one resignation.

“The Chief is willing to forgo one man to keep all of the current staff and retain the step increases,” Burns said. “[He] thinks it’s important to give current employees a step…” But despite Eyler’s willingness, Burns had concerns of his own over the proposed cutback.

“We cannot guarantee public safety,” Burn said. “What if you go down to 10 and two quit, that’s scary. You need more than what’s required so you have it filled, because some might be absent… I don’t want to loose that comfort zone.”

But the commissioners did not necessarily share Burns concern. While Commissioner Wayne Hooper suggested looking into what the reduction would do to the town’s police coverage, Commissioner Bob Lookingbill had no qualms with the cut back.

“I really think 10 officers can handle this town of 6,000,” Lookingbill said.

Commissioner Ron Terpko agreed with Lookingbill, despite his own concerns. “We can do it with 10 and it will work,” Terpko said. “It can work, but it’s tight.”

All of the commissioners and Burns agreed that something needed to be cut to ensure that steps and raises were fit into the budget, and after discussing the matter, the vote was made to cut Thurmont’s police force from 12 to 10 sworn officers. The measure will not affect the town’s current force, which has 10 officers.

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