Mayor: Greater police presence coming to Ches. City Bridge
Town also considering police changes
— 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
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.
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.