Mayor: Greater po­lice pres­ence com­ing to Ches. City Bridge

Town also con­sid­er­ing po­lice changes

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— In re­sponse to res­i­dent con­cerns about those run­ning the tem­po­rary traf­fic lights on the Ch­e­sa­peake City Bridge, lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies are poised to set up a pres­ence in the area, Mayor Dean Geraci­mos re­ported.

A re­paint­ing project on the bridge has led to the clo­sure of one lane, forc­ing traf­fic to uti­lize one lane at a time through a traf­fic sig­nal. Un­for­tu­nately, many do not ap­pear to be fol­low­ing the law.

The mayor met with lo­cal Mary­land State Po­lice lead­ers in town Mon­day, where they per­son­ally wit­nessed scofflaws pass through the red lights in an at­tempt to speed up their jour­ney. In re­ac­tion to that in­creased risk of head-on col­li­sions, state troop­ers will soon be sta­tioned on ei­ther side of the bridge span­ning the C&D Canal to watch for those not obey­ing the signals and is­sue tick­ets to those fail­ing to do so, Geraci­mos said.

“The mes­sage will get out very quickly that they are there,” he told con­cerned res­i­dents at the Mon­day night town meet­ing. “This would have oc­curred ear­lier, but the unit they will uti­lize was re­lo­cated to El­li­cott City fol­low­ing the flood­ing there. They are tak­ing this very se­ri­ously.”

The mayor also said that res­i­dents should see state troop­ers on state roads in town more of­ten, pa­trolling for speed­ers and other traf­fic law of­fend­ers.

“You’re go­ing to see what I call a dou­ble dip­ping, with both sher­iff’s deputies and state troop­ers in town more of­ten,” he said.

That news comes a few weeks af­ter the mayor ex­pressed his

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

dis­ap­point­ment to a Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice li­ai­son with a lack of re­quested tick­et­ing of those speed­ing in town. The town con­tracts sher­iff’s deputies to pa­trol dur­ing high-vol­ume times like week­ends since it does not have its own po­lice force, pay­ing $96,000 this fis­cal year.

Sgt. David Leas re­ported last month that deputies is­sued only two speed­ing tick­ets in June while also hand­ing out 14 warn­ings af­ter Geraci­mos called on deputies to crack­down. On Mon­day, Leas re­ported that deputies is­sued 13 speed­ing tick­ets and 30 warn­ings dur­ing the month of July.

Geraci­mos also told those in at­ten­dance that af­ter meet­ing with MSP of­fi­cials Mon­day af­ter­noon that he was post­pon­ing a planned dis­cus­sion on the fu­ture of the town’s pub­lic safety in or­der to al­low more time to re­view newly dis­cov­ered op­tions.

“They turned my world up­side­down with the po­ten­tial for some things I was not aware could be ac­com­plished by a town such as ours,” he said, not­ing he will have a fol­lowup meet­ing with MSP about the po­ten­tial of grant fund­ing and other pro­grams.

Af­ter Mon­day’s meet­ing, the mayor said he was ex­plor­ing all op­tions in terms of law en­force­ment and town safety, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of form­ing a town po­lice force.

“We have a very good part­ner­ship with the Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and we’ll def­i­nitely be keep­ing some sort of part­ner­ship with them or maybe keep­ing the sta­tus quo,” he said. “But we’re def­i­nitely look­ing at ev­ery­thing right now, in­clud­ing our own po­lice force or a shared po­lice force.”

Geraci­mos said he wanted to es­pe­cially re­search an MSP pro­gram in western Mary­land that shared re­sources be­tween the state agency and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

The mayor may have been ref­er­enc­ing MSP’s Res­i­dent Trooper Pro­gram, which pro­vides con­trac­tual law en­force­ment ser­vices to coun­ties and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Car­roll County and Mt. Airy were among the top users of that pro­gram for decades, un­til both re­formed lo­cal po­lice agen­cies in re­cent years. Train­ing, equip­ment, and other ex­penses are paid for by the con­tract­ing ju­ris­dic­tion. Based at the near­est bar­rack — in Ch­e­sa­peake City’s case the North East bar­rack — res­i­dent troop­ers ful­fill policing needs of the lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tion.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

While traf­fic can back up for miles dur­ing rush hour due to on­go­ing Ch­e­sa­peake City Bridge work, res­i­dents are re­port­ing more ve­hi­cles are not obey­ing traf­fic signals. Law en­force­ment lead­ers now say they plan to crack­down.

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