Aux­il­iary of­fi­cers to aid in code in­spec­tion

Balto. Co. Coun­cil OKs en­force­ment project

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Pamela Wood pwood@balt­ twit­

Vol­un­teer aux­il­iary po­lice of­fi­cers in Bal­ti­more County will help in­spec­tors with code en­force­ment du­ties un­der leg­is­la­tion ap­proved Mon­day night by the County Coun­cil.

Coun­cil mem­bers voted unan­i­mously to cre­ate a one-year pi­lot pro­gram that will al­low aux­il­iary of­fi­cers to as­sist with tasks such as check­ing prob­lem properties and look­ing for po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions.

The pi­lot will be con­ducted in the east­ern part of the county, in­clud­ing in Dun­dalk, Es­sex and Mid­dle River.

The county Po­lice De­part­ment has about 65 aux­il­iary of­fi­cers — trained civil­ian vol­un­teers who or­di­nar­ily help pro­vide crowd con­trol at pub­lic events, di­rect traf­fic, is­sue park­ing ci­ta­tions, help dur­ing emer­gen­cies such as storms and per­form ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties.

Coun­cil­man Todd Cran­dell, who spon­sored the bill, said aux­il­iary of­fi­cers can help code in­spec­tors deal with is­sues such as va­cant homes and rat in­fes­ta­tions.

“Th­ese things can be a pub­lic health and pub­lic safety is­sue,” the Dun­dalk Repub­li­can said.

Cran­dell said aux­il­iary of­fi­cers will help the De­part­ment of Per­mits, Ap­provals and Inspections, which has 18 code en­force­ment of­fi­cers to cover 682 square miles of Bal­ti­more County.

“They just lack the man­power,” he said.

Neigh­bor­hoods in the east­ern part of the county strug­gle with ag­ing homes. With­out bet­ter code en­force­ment, Cran­dell said, he fears the “rate of de­cay” could out­pace the eco­nomic growth com­ing from new developments such as Trade­point At­lantic at the for­mer steel mill site in Spar­rows Point.

Many sub­ur­ban po­lice agen­cies, in­clud­ing Howard and Anne Arun­del coun­ties, have aux­il­iary or re­serve of­fi­cers to help po­lice with sup­port du­ties.

In Bal­ti­more County, aux­il­iary of­fi­cers com­plete 115 hours of train­ing. They do not carry guns, but do have “ex­tremely lim­ited” ar­rest pow­ers, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

In 2014, an aux­il­iary of­fi­cer was taken off patrol du­ties af­ter or­der­ing a man to stop video­tap­ing an ar­rest in Tow­son. The aux­il­iary of­fi­cer told the man he had “lost” his con­sti­tu­tional rights.

Cran­dell said he doesn’t ex­pect prob­lems with us­ing aux­il­iary of­fi­cers for code en­force­ment be­cause it will be small, nar­rowly de­fined pi­lot pro­gram.

He said aux­il­iary of­fi­cers might, for ex­am­ple, make rou­tine checks of aban­doned homes that have been cited for tall grass or not be­ing prop­erly se­cured. Or they could fol­low up af­ter con­trac­tors per­form rat ex­ter­mi­na­tions in neigh­bor­hoods to see if the work was ef­fec­tive.

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