Cecil County Sheriff Reviews Car Policy; Cuts Inmate Road Cleanups Due to County Budget Cuts
Cecil County Sheriff Barry Janney told County Commissioners Tuesday that he would conduct a 90-day review of â€śtake homeâ€ť cars for deputies but defended the policy as a cost-efficient crime-prevention policy and an incentive to recruit experienced officers to a low-paying police force.
Additionally, documents obtained by The Cecil Times also show that Janney recently informed local community and charitable groups, as well as the Commissioners, that community service projects performed by work-release inmates at the Detention Center would have to be suspended at least for the next several months due to cuts in the Sheriffâ€™s Department budget by the county.
In particular, roadside trash pick-ups performed by inmates are one of the most popular local initiatives. But Janney recently informed local groups that the budget limits imposed by the Commissioners will prevent such services, and he encouraged them to contact Commissioners if they objected to the reduced services.
Meanwhile, the review of the Sheriffâ€™s Departmentâ€™s car policy was instigated by County Commissioner Diana Broomell (R-4), who railed against the policy during recent budget deliberations. However, the Sheriff is legally considered a state official, who is independently elected, and the county cannot dictate his personnel policies.
Nevertheless, Janney appeared before the County Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon and, while defending the policy, said he would conduct a statistical review of the benefits and details of allowing the 84 sworn deputies employed by his department to use county police cars to travel to and from work and in their local neighborhoods. He said he was confident that the review would prove to the Commissioners the value and cost-effectiveness of allowing deputies to take home patrol vehicles when their on-duty shift is over.
However, in a new policy effective next month, Janney said that the 25 percent of deputies who live outside Cecil County would not be allowed to use their police cars for local errands but only to travel to and from work. He noted that once a deputy crosses the county line, they are considered on-dutyâ€”even though they are not being paid for such timeâ€”and are obligated to respond to crime scenes.
â€śWe end up getting an hour or so of extra, unpaid time from deputies,â€ť Janney told Cecil Times. â€śIt is a very cost-effective way to get more deputies on patrol.â€ť
Within Cecil County, Janney cited multiple examplesâ€”including a recent high-speed chase resulting in a shooting assault against deputies in the Cecilton/Crystal Beach Manor areaâ€”in which off-duty deputies driving county patrol cars intervened to save lives and provide law enforcement assistance, especially in rural areas of the county.
The mere presence of a police care can be a crime deterrent. Commissioner James Mullin (R-1) noted that the parking of State Police and Sheriffâ€™s cars in Cecilton on Route 213 has served as a deterrent to speeding and crime.
All the county commissioners, including the frequently missing Michael Dunn (R-3), attended the meeting with the Sheriff. In a one-sentence comment, Dunn said the commissioners did not want to kill the take-home car policy but wanted to make sure there were â€śno abuses.â€ť
After the meeting, Janney told Cecil Times that he was reluctant to stop local community services, provided by work-release inmates, but that he had no choice but to suspend road clean-ups and help to local non-profit groups. Especially since the summer season requires vacation time for corrections officers and the new jail construction project requires staff time for transition needs, Janney said, he will be unable to continue inmate/community services due to the budget reductions imposed by the county.
â€śThe commissioners have let me know they are not happyâ€ť about the loss of the inmatesâ€™ community services, Janney said. â€śBut if they are not willing to pay for those services, there is nothing I can do.â€ť