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Survey shows police department strengths

Elizabeth M. Piazza

(8/7) Citizens of Thurmont feel that the Thurmont Police Department is doing a fair to great job, according to a recent survey conducted by the Thurmont Police Commission.

The survey, released at the July 23 Thurmont Police Commission Meeting, was developed by the Thurmont Police Commission to assist the Thurmont Police Department in determining the needs of the community. The survey was sent out with the water bill in late April. Of 2,000 surveys sent out, 212 completed surveys were returned, an 11 percent return rate.

“Typically, there is only a 2 percent return rate (of surveys of this kind),” said Tom Iaccarino, chairman of the Thurmont Police Commission. “This is an indication the town has spoken about performance and their greatest areas of concern.” Many surveys were returned anonymously and the department does not have the demographics of the respondents.

Sixty percent of the surveys returned indicated that the crime rate in Thurmont is normal for a town of its size and “drugs” were seen as the most prevalent crimes in town, over theft, vandalism, and speeding.

Seventy-six percent of surveys indicated that response time for the police department is either excellent or good, with 70 percent indicating that the response time was 15 minutes or less.

“I think that’s an outstanding response time from a police department,” Iaccarino said.

Forty-one percent of the responses indicated that nine sworn officers is about the right amount for a town of Thurmont’s size, while 23 percent believed it is not enough. There are currently 10 sworn officers, including Chief Greg Eyler, but the town’s authorized strength is 12. Eyler is aiming to recruit two more officers next year.

As the department finishes its move into the newly completed 8,100 square foot, $1.8 million police building, it continues to research various recruitment programs in order to recruit new officers as well as research options to help retain existing officers.

“As the cost of living rises, we hope to put corrections in the budget to increase salaries across the board,” Iaccarino said.

The survey consisted of 13 questions regarding citizen interaction with police, police response time and performance and future needs of the department. The last question allowed for citizens to attach comments that they felt would be helpful to improve the department. A significant number of people responded and Eyler will review each response.

The survey comes at a time when the department is investigating a rash of car break-ins and daytime bicycle thefts as well as a July 20 assault on 77-year-old, Emory Rice. Three arrests have been made in the assault, one of which is a 15-year-old boy. A fourth arrest is expected. Officer Mark DeBord, who is in charge of the investigation, declined to comment on the motive for the assault. The investigation is still pending.

“This is serious,” Eyler said. “We’re going to find out who did this. We have solved every major crime since I’ve been here.”

If anyone has any information about this incident, they are asked to contact Officer Mark DeBord at (301) 271-0905 ext 114.

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