Char­lotte Hall trooper to re­tire from Calvert bar­rack

Paton is sec­ond in com­mand in Prince Fred­er­ick

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - By AN­DREW CEPHAS acephas@somd­news.com

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY AN­DREW CEPHAS

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.

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