Sheriff seeking a few good men, women
Top of mind to many citizens in Charles County is safety. It is also top of mind to Sheriff Troy Berry (D), and he pleaded with assembled citizens last Wednesday evening to join with the sheriff’s office in urging the county commissioners to give the sheriff more money to add staff to the police force.
As Berry pointed out at the annual crime watch kick-off celebration, only 10 officers have been added to the force during the last seven years. According to U.S. Census numbers, the county’s population has grown by more than 10,000 since 2010; Charles County is now home to 156,118 people as of July 2015 census figures. That’s a considerable amount of growth in a short period of time. And there appears to be no real slowing down.
Charles County is a wonderful place to live, learn, work and shop. But citizens want to feel safe in their homes and while out and about, and that can’t be done with an understaffed police force. Currently, the sheriff’s office has more than 600 employees, and not all of them are sworn officers. In comparison to the population and the size of the county, officers can’t be everywhere all the time.
But, the commissioners throwing money at the sheriff’s office isn’t the only way to solve the problem. The sheriff knows he has to actively recruit officers, and one way to do that is to be even more involved in the community. Every year, Charles County neighborhoods host National Night Out activities where members of the sheriff’s office and Maryland State Police visit neighborhoods and interact with citizens. While this symbolic event is crucial to showing police in a positive, neighborly light, this shouldn’t be the only time adults and children have positive interaction with law enforcement. Police officers — and the sheriff — should be visiting neighborhoods and schools regularly, talking with kids and young adults about becoming deputies someday in their home county. While potential candidates for the sheriff’s office could come from anywhere, having someone already familiar with the area and the neighborhoods could only be beneficial to a new deputy.
There is no simple solution for effectively staffing the county’s law enforcement agencies, but if the sheriff is asking for help, the citizens and the commissioners should listen and see what can be done. After that, it is up to the sheriff’s office to find the best candidates possible for the job.
We support Sheriff Berry in his endeavor, and hope he will use creative ways to draw recruits to the office if and when he is granted more funding.