Sheriff Adams: ‘We’re making great strides’
First town hall covers variety of topics
— Sheriff Scott Adams covered everything from traffic enforcement to the county’s drug issues during a wide-ranging talk on Wednesday night as part of his first “Ask the Sheriff” town hall meeting.
About a dozen people, as well as several representatives from the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office, North East Police Chief Darrell Hamilton and County Executive Alan McCarthy, attended the event, which was held at Haven Community Church in North East.
Adams, who has long advocated a grassroots approach to policing, promoted the town hall as a way for the public to bring their concerns and questions to law enforcement. In the coming months, he hopes to hold more such town halls across the county, though a schedule has not yet been set.
“I’m never afraid to take a question,” Adams told the group on Wednesday. “I’m going to tell you what we’re doing about it or what I think we can do about it and if I don’t know — because I don’t know everything by any
means — I’ll tell you that and try to get an answer.”
Before opening the floor to questions Wednesday night, Adams gave an update on several different initiatives the sheriff’s office has undertaken in the last two years, including a renewed focus on community policing and the formation of a dedicated traffic unit as well as his agency’s continuing battle against the county’s drug issues.
Adams pointed to the formation of a Community Resources Unit during his first year in office as the most tangible example of the agency’s grassroots approach to policing but also noted the success of programs such as No Shave November and Shop with a Cop.
He also pointed to the CCSO Explorer’s program, which allows teenagers ages 13 to 18 to learn about police work while also undertaking community projects, and the new Homeland Security program at the Cecil County School of Technology as examples of how CCSO can recruit hometown talent to someday join its ranks.
“When you’re working where you grew up and where you live and where your family is, you’re invested in that area and that community, which is important,” said Adams, who grew up in Cecil County.
In addition to starting a Community Resources Unit, Adams also received funding last year for five new deputies and had hoped to put that manpower toward starting a dedicated Traffic Unit. But because it takes so long to hire law enforcement officers, that unit is just getting up and running now, Adams said.
Previously, deputies who were crash investigators had to do this work on top of their regular patrol job, meaning that they were sometimes called in to do investigations after already completing an 11-hour shift. But now CCSO has its most experienced crash investigator as the sole member of this new traffic unit and Adams said he hopes to eventually have three officers in that unit.
CCSO is also trying some new techniques to tackle speeding, which is one of the most frequent complaints he hears, Adams said. So, using some grants from the State Highway Administration, the agency is planning to purchase two “speed spies.” These cameras don’t give speeding tickets but rather monitor the traffic and the speeds on a particular section of road, which can help CCSO determine if a particular speeding complaint is valid and if enforcement is needed, he said.
“We have miles and miles of backroads in this county,” Adams said. “We don’t have enough people to be on all those back roads all the time but if we can identify a specific area, we can do some traffic details there.”
Adams also discussed CCSO’s efforts to tackle the drug problem in Cecil County, acknowledging that a lot of crime “comes back to drugs.” But he pointed to a program at the Cecil County Detention Center, which he also oversees in his capacity as sheriff, as one success. As part of this volunteer program, CCSO offers Vivitrol, or naltrexone, to any clean heroin addict before he or she is released from the detention center.
Vivitrol blocks the opiate receptors in the brain, meaning a person who receives the shot cannot feel the high if he or she uses an opiate within 29 days after receiving the medicine, Adams said.
Adams emphasized that Vivitrol is totally different from methadone, which is a narcotic maintenance drug. In responding to a question about methadone in the county, Adams said he’s heard success stories involving methadone, but it “seems to not have a very good endgame.”
“I keep hearing the term ‘lifetime maintenance’ thrown around,” Adams said. “I know there’s success stories with it, but I’d just like to hear that at some point they’re weaning off that.”
Adams also noted that this week, CCSO had someone begin the job of heroin coordinator. This individual will collect heroin-related information by combing through arrest records, call-for-service reports and other law enforcement documents as well as by speaking directly with officers and detectives. He or she will then enter that information into a federal database. This would allow CCSO to not only track trends but also pursue murder charges against a drug dealer if they can connect him or her to the heroin that caused a fatal overdose.
“Anything we can do to fight the drug issue that’s going on here, I’m all about it. It’s frustrating a lot of times because I want to wake up tomorrow and it be 100 percent better. And that’s not going to happen, I know that’s not going to happen,” he said. “But we’re making great strides.”
Sheriff Scott Adams speaks during a town hall held Wednesday night at Haven Community Church in North East.