Charlotte Hall trooper to retire from Calvert barrack
Paton is second in command in Prince Frederick
First Sgt. Albert Paton III of Charlotte Hall, second in command of the Maryland State Police Prince Frederick barrack, will be retiring tomorrow, June 30, after more than 26 years in law enforcement.
Paton began his career in 1990 at the state police academy in Pikesville. He compared the six-month, live-in academy to the military’s basic training “on steroids. You live up there during the week and if you’re lucky enough that you don’t get any demerits, then you get to go home on the weekend. If you get so many demerits, then you have to stay up there,” Paton said, adding that the classwork was just as strenuous as the physical training.
Paton said he wasn’t interested in becoming a police officer when he was young, but was drawn to law enforcement through an uncle who was a game warden in Kentucky and a friend who is currently a sergeant at the Leonardtown barrack.
“When we were young, he was always talking about troopers and how sharp they looked and cars and everything,” Paton said of his friend, Mike Cox. “After a while I thought, ‘You know, maybe that’s something I should try,’ and here I am 26 years later.”
Paton said Cox enlisted in the Army prior to attending the police academy, but said the credited time from his military service will allow him to retire also within the next couple of years.
After Paton graduated from the academy, he was assigned to the Leonardtown barrack. Being from St. Mary’s County, Paton said it was “a little strange at first” being a trooper in the community where he grew up. He graduated from Chopticon High School in 1987. He stayed at that barrack for three years before transferring to the former Waldorf barrack, where he worked for an additional three years.
In 1996, Paton was promoted to corporal and was assigned to the Prince Frederick barrack. He said he liked Calvert and enjoyed collaborating with the sheriff’s office.
“Even when they had the new La Plata barrack, I was living in La Plata and it was five minutes from my house. I was still driving up here because I just enjoyed working” in Calvert County, Paton recalled.
Paton was promoted to sergeant three years after arriving at the Prince Frederick barrack and in 2000 he was selected to be the commander of MSP’s auto theft unit in Columbia. He worked there for two years, describing it as a tough gig.
“It was a really busy, stressful assignment,” he said. “It was undercover work. It was administrative stuff because I was running the unit, so it was really a lot of big investigations and a lot of stress.”
After returning to the Prince Frederick barrack, Paton was promoted to detective sergeant in 2006. He said this, too, was not a piece of cake.
The detective sergeant “puts you in charge of all the criminal investigations, so I was running the criminal investigations for the barrack as well as a joint investigative unit with the sheriff’s office,” Paton said. “So that was another busy, stressful assignment.”
Paton worked as the detective sergeant for six years before the first sergeant position became available. He said he took the assistant barrack commander position so he could work his last years in law enforcement in uniform and work with the road troopers, adding that he’s enjoyed this assignment.
Paton said the most important thing he’s learned throughout his career is the influence a police officer holds.
“When you’re young and you first start out, you don’t really think much about all the contacts you make every day,” he said. “You’re just simply writing a ticket, or handling an accident or investigating a crime, but then when you get older you realize how much those little things impact people. I might make 200 contacts with people in a month. For those 200 people, that may be the only time they’ve ever dealt with a state trooper, and for them, they remember every single thing. … I barely remember it because it’s just one of hundreds of people. I definitely have taken that to heart.”
Now that he is older, Paton said he has tried to use his influence on young people, and will miss that influence when he retires. He said he will also miss the camaraderie the troopers have and being in uniform interacting with the public.
Paton has had a home improvement license for years, doing contract work along with his MSP assignments. He plans on focusing on the home improvement work during his retirement.
“I’ve done complete remodels of homes or additions or even little small things,” Paton said, adding that he will probably remain in Calvert County following retirement. “I’ll be a fulltime family man and construction guy. That’s probably about it.”
Paton said the assistant barrack commander position has not yet been filled.
1st Sgt. Albert Paton III poses for a picture outside the Maryland State Police Prince Frederick barrack. Paton is retiring after more than 26 years of law enforcement service in Maryland.