Sher­iff seek­ing a few good men, women

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

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.

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