LETTER: Chas. County Needs Auxiliary Police to Combat Rampant Crime - Southern Maryland Headline News

LETTER: Chas. County Needs Auxiliary Police to Combat Rampant Crime


LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Esteemed Representatives;

This is an open letter to all Maryland representatives-city, county, state, and federal. As a concerned citizen and fairly new to your constituency, I am writing this to request a formal review and study of the proposal below to create a reserve/auxiliary augmentation force to the Charles County Sheriff's Office (CCSO).

The first question I am sure you are asking yourself is, "Why is this proposal necessary?" The second question would logically be, "How will this work?" And finally, the third question would be, "How will we pay for this?" I assure you I will briefly address each question below and would be more than willing to meet with any or all of you and your staffs to discuss this proposal in more detail.

Question 1: Why is this proposal necessary?

We residents of Bryans Road are seeing more crimes occurring than ever before. Not only are the numbers increasing, but the types of crimes are getting worse; criminals are becoming bolder and committing more serious crimes.

Unfortunately our county includes a major north-south transit route, Route 301. This by-pass around the Beltway is ideal for not only long-haul truckers, wishing to avoid congestion, but also for drug runners looking to avoid law enforcement that monitor the I-95 Corridor for drug runners. Due to our proximity, we are also exposed to the criminal elements that reside in Southeast DC and Prince George's County. Let's face it, when we read the Crime Briefs on Southern Maryland Online, most of the time the people listed are from DC or PG County. However, that is not to say we do not have our own criminals within Charles County. I met one not too long ago as he walked into my neighbor's garage, in broad daylight, in a nice, quiet cul-de-sac in Bryans Road, where he decided he was thirsty and stole a six-pack of half liter bottles of Mountain Dew. When we confronted him, a teenager of about 16, he said he just moved here from PG County; he was a bit incoherent, and stated that he was living with a guardian in the nearby low-income housing. Great, instead of just visiting and committing crimes parents are now shipping their juvenile delinquent children to our suburbs; I am sure to get them away from trouble, but they bring that trouble with them. Alas, the days for the need of the deputized posse have returned.

Here are a few more crimes that have occurred in our one-stop-sign town of Bryans Road:

* 16 Aug 06 - 14-y/o boy scared with a gun and had cell phone stolen in South Hampton; 3 perpetrators still at-large
* 2 Aug 06 - Drive-by shooting; perps still at-large
* 4 Jul 06 - 2 men shot dead at Safeway; perps, both from DC, arrested
* 20 Apr 05 - Armed robbery at Safeway; perp still at-large
* 17 Apr 05 - Shooting/carjacking, victim wounded; perps still at-large
* 6 Apr 05 - Armed home invasion; perp killed by armed resident
* 4 Apr 05 - Armed robbery at Big B's Liquors; perps still at-large

(Source: Southern Maryland Online, http://somd.com/news/headlines/archive.shtml)

The above listed crimes are the more violent, high-profile crimes. There are many lesser crimes (i.e. drug arrests, assault, reckless driving, mail theft, etc) that occur on a daily basis, plus other high-visibility crimes that were committed prior to 2005 such as the robberies of the Bryans Road Post Office, Safeway, and Dash-In. If you notice the comments at the end of the crimes listed you will see that only one includes an arrest of the perps while another includes a perp being killed by the intended victim (kudos to the potential victim, we got one). The remainder of the crimes, as well as a great majority of the lesser crimes not listed, do not end so well. A good number of them end with 'perps still at-large.' I am in no way besmirching the professionalism of the Charles County Sheriff's Office or Maryland State Police; the fact that criminals get away is merely an indication of the lack of assets available to them from the county government.

Question 2: How will this work?

The way this will work is through the dedication and loyalty of the numerous law-abiding citizens of Charles County. However, it will not work without the assistance and implicit support of the Charles County Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police.

Charles County, being in such close proximity to DC, has numerous citizens that have served in the military, many with tours in combat, on peacekeeping or nation-building missions, or even as reservists or guardsmen/women in areas of our country that have seen catastrophic disasters where the military was needed to provide security. This experience, along with the countless days spent on the weapons range or in the field with weapons, provides us with a unique ability to conduct 'peace officer'-type missions. Notice I did not say 'law enforcement' missions. The role of the reserve/auxiliary force would be to conduct foot patrols and security sweeps in areas near their homes/towns in an effort to free up law enforcement officers (LEOs) so they can pursue more serious crimes and reduce the response time to critical situations.

The profile of a reserve/auxiliary deputy would be as follows:

* First and foremost, volunteer (no pay, no benefits)
* At least 23-years old
* At least 10-years in the military (specifically combat specialties)
* At least 5-years as a Military Police officer or in a combat specialty with a college degree in law or criminal justice from an accredited school
* Must have received an Honorable Discharge; no upgrades
* No criminal record
* Must legally own their own pistol/handgun and purchase their own ammunition
* Must demonstrate a high-degree of proficiency (same as LEOs) with their personal weapon every 3 months
* Must pay for their own continuing education as outlined by Sheriff's Office; this includes First Aid training (if required)

Dos:

* Patrol their assigned sector; volunteers will set their own hours and inform the patrol supervisor on-duty in their area that they are going on-duty, where they will patrol, and how long they will patrol
* Conduct radio or telephone checks with their assigned patrol supervisor at frequent intervals
* Observe and report
* Only fire in self-defense or to halt the commission of a violent crime or felony
* Detain suspects until the patrol supervisor arrives on-scene

Don'ts:

* Fire warning shots
* Transport suspects
* Interrogate or abuse suspects
* Cannot carry their weapon or patrol outside their city limits, or where they are assigned by the Sheriff's Office
* Cannot carry their weapon concealed or while in civilian clothes; must be in uniform to carry the weapon and the weapon must be visible
* Cannot conduct high-speed chases in a vehicle
* Any breach of the rules and regulations will result in the removal of the individual and could possibly lead to criminal and/or civil charges

Question 3: How will we pay for this?

And finally, the biggest question of all, the question of money. If the above proposal was read carefully, one would notice that the bulk of the costs associated with the reserve/auxiliary force are to be assumed by the member. Volunteers do not get paid nor do they receive health/dental/retirement benefits. The only pay and benefits they will receive is a safer neighborhood for their family and friends. The only cost assumed by the government (city/county/state) may possibly be liability insurance in the event the volunteer deputy is sued for wrongdoing by a suspect or innocent victim injured in the line of duty. However, based on the judgment, decision-making skills, and discipline instilled in these former military members, the fact that they are older and more mature, and that they may possibly have degrees in the law arena, these members will greatly enhance the capabilities of the Charles County Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police in Charles County. The benefits of such a program will greatly outweigh the risks.

There is of course a much simpler solution and that is to pass a 'right-to-carry' law for the citizens of Maryland; we are still citizens of the United States and therefore are guaranteed certain rights as outlined in our Constitution, most notably the Second Amendment. The absence of such a right only ensures that criminals are able to carry weapons.

This proposal is in no way a negative reflection of our dedicated and hard-working men and women of both the Charles County Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police. Working with law enforcement on a daily basis, I understand the challenges and frustration encountered by them with regard to funding and politics. Instead, this proposal of a reserve/auxiliary police force is meant to be just that, in reserve and in support of our officers. All that is required of you, the esteemed representatives of the people, is to realize the efficacy of this program and approve it so that the Sheriff can begin to implement it.

T. Barnes
Bryans Road, Md.

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