Letter from Sheriff Zylak - Southern Maryland Headline News

Letter from Sheriff Zylak

With the end of 2004 I find that two years of my first term has gone by very quickly. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Citizens of the county and the members of the Sheriff’s Office. I would like to share some of the accomplishments of the past twelve months.

As the Sheriff’s Office progressed through the Strategic Management Plan process, one of the first tasks was to redefine the Mission Statement. After much discussion and a lot of hard work by the members of the Strategic Management Team, the Mission Statement of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office was complete. That Mission Statement is, “The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office endeavors to provide the highest quality service through respect, integrity and professionalism.” The Strategic Management Plan is near completion and will be finalized for the Fiscal Year 2006 budget presentation. The plan was revised to project two years in advance rather than the five years initially thought.

The Sheriff’s Office has assembled a Citizens Advisory Board. The Board is currently comprised of twenty-three citizens committed to working with the Sheriff on law enforcement issues in St. Mary’s County. The Board’s first task was to develop a survey that gauges the level of law enforcement service being provided to the citizens. The survey is intended not only to tell us what we are doing right, but what we could do better. The survey will also let us know what the concerns are in a particular neighborhood, town, or district. Finally, the survey is a necessary part of the Accreditation for the Sheriff’s Office.

The Accreditation process is moving along on target. Progress is being made on the revision of the Policy and Procedure Manual which guides the employees in the day to day operations of the Sheriff’s Office. In addition, personnel are busy developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the various positions and/or divisions in the agency. SOP’s are new to the agency and have proved to be a challenge, but a great benefit can be seen. The Sheriff and key personnel in the process attended a Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) program. The conference gave valuable insight to the personnel who attended, in the process of accreditation.

The first Citizen Academy was conducted and began on October 14, 2004. The class continued one day a week for three hours a night for the next six weeks. The first class was comprised of fifteen citizens from the county, nine of which were members of the Citizens Advisory Board. Instruction was presented by members of the Sheriff’s Office from all of the various Divisions as well as individuals from the State’s Attorney’s Office, Parole and Probation, and the Emergency Management Agency. The Academy was created in order to give citizens a better understanding of the Sheriff’s Office’s functions and the Judicial System. The classes included tours of the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters, the Courthouse, Emergency Control Center, and the Adult Detention Center.

The Sheriff and several high level personnel participated in a Safe Schools Task Force designed to look at the incidents of arrest and discipline in the public school system in St. Mary’s County. The task force was short lived, but identified issues such as consistency in discipline, staff training, and additional programs as some factors that may reduce incidents of bad behavior.

A grant was secured for the officers working in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for “Cold Case” investigations. These cases are those of a serious nature such as homicide, rape, robbery, etc. that all leads have been exhausted on and years have passed since they were committed. The grant would provide overtime money for detectives to take a second look, and a fresh look, at an investigation to ascertain if anything had been missed initially or if new technology, such as DNA, could be used to develop a suspect or make an arrest.

St. Mary’s County Citizens have much to be proud of in their Sheriff’s Office. The Deputies, Correctional Officers and Civilian Support Staff are all dedicated to the Mission Statement and to providing the best service possible.

Anyone who wishes additional information on any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (301) 475-4200 ext. 1900 or the Sheriff’s Office website at www.firstsheriff.com.

David D. Zylak
St. Mary’s County, Maryland

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