New Ris­ing Sun com­mis­sioner set­tles in

Cecil Whig - - & - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— Not long af­ter tak­ing the oath of of­fice, Augie Pier­son said he started get­ting phone calls from res­i­dents want­ing to talk to him about a va­ri­ety of is­sues.

And re­cently while hav­ing din­ner in a Ris­ing Sun restau­rant, he was ap­proached by peo­ple with opin­ions about the town po­lice depart­ment.

The mes­sage he has for all of them is sim­ple.

“Please come to the meet­ings and ex­press your view­point and how you think the town can be im­proved,” Pier­son said.

In the four years since he last held pub­lic of­fice, Pier­son said the use of so­cial me­dia has ex­ploded. At the town meet­ing Tues­day night, he said it was both amaz­ing and dis­turb­ing how many peo­ple lash out on­line but won’t at­tend the twice- monthly town meet­ings.

“You can’t sit at home and say, ‘ I don’t like this’ and ex­pect things to change,” Pier­son said. “This is the part of a citizen gov­ern­ment with the free ex­change of opin­ions. Ex­press your view­point and how you think the town can be im­proved.”

Mayor Travis Mar­ion agreed that pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion is key.

RIS­ING SUN

“No mat­ter whether you agree or dis­agree, and even if you don’t want to per­son­ally get in­volved, come to the meet­ings,” he said.

Pier­son took of­fice Nov. 22 to ful­fill the term va­cated by Joseph Shep­hard. Pier­son had served three con­sec­u­tive terms be­fore los­ing a re- elec­tion bid in 2012. A 2013 cam­paign ended with a loss as well.

The hot topic on Facebook that got Pier­son’s at­ten­tion was a dis­cus­sion aimed at dis­man­tling Ris­ing Sun’s po­lice depart­ment.

“It would re­ally not be the best direc­tion for this town,” he said.

With two adult chil­dren in the pub­lic safety sec­tor, Pier­son said he has a unique per­spec­tive.

“A lot of the prob­lems we have are more se­ri­ous than peo­ple re­al­ize,” he said.

Dur­ing that same meet­ing, Po­lice Chief Fran­cis “Chip” Peter­son re­ported he and his four of­fi­cers han­dled more than 300 calls for ser­vice dur­ing the pre­vi­ous two weeks in­clud­ing var­i­ous drug ar­rests, traf­fic vi­o­la­tions and ap­pre­hend­ing a fugi­tive. Peter­son added that, al­though heroin is the hot but­ton drug, he’s notic­ing a grow­ing prob­lem with crys­tal meth in Ris­ing Sun.

While their first re­spon­si­bil­ity is to pro­tect the town and its res­i­dents, Pier­son pointed out that the of­fi­cers do re­spond out­side of town when called. Re­cently, Peter­son trav­eled to Conowingo to as­sist Wa­ter Witch Fire Com­pany.

“This was an ( emer­gency med­i­cal ser vices) call where a po­lice of­fi­cer was needed at the scene,” Pier­son said.

Af­ter wait­ing 45 min­utes for an­other agency to re­spond, the call was made to Ris­ing Sun.

“The Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and Mary­land State Po­lice don’t have enough man­power to serve in­di­vid­ual towns,” Pier­son noted.

Port De­posit has a con­tract with CCSO to pro­vide pro­tec­tion, but only dur­ing set hours. He noted that Perr yville moved from the state po­lice res­i­dent trooper pro­gram — which is now de­funct — to its own po­lice depart­ment a decade ago. North East and Elkton also have their own po­lice forces.

At the restau­rant, Pier­son said he was asked why Ris­ing Sun was fund­ing a po­lice depart­ment.

“At what point does money ver­sus safety be­come the di­vid­ing line?” he said.

With the growth of the town, Pier­son said the point is moot.

“There’s no real jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for us to do away with the po­lice depart­ment right now,” he said. “Our prin­ci­pal func­tion is to pro­tect the res­i­dents of Ris­ing Sun.”

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Augie Pier­son re­turned to the Ris­ing Sun town board last month to ful­fil the term va­cated by Joseph Shep­hard.

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