HOLLYWOOD, Md. (March 5, 2020)—The Commissioners of St. Mary's County gave their approval to a sheriff's office request to seek grant funding for four new sheriff's deputies' positions that would be assigned to community-oriented police (COPS) duties in the northern portion of St. Mary's County.
The funding, if the sheriff's office wins the grant, would come from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services for $500,000 allocated to the county over a three-year period.
A budget amendment would be required by the county each year of $753,699 to make up the rest of the funding needed to hire, train, equip and pay the four new deputies, according to county government documents.
That $753,699 is not included in the sheriff's office current budget.
Sgt. Shawn Moses, who commands the COPS Unit in Lexington Park, said just five officers are assigned to an area of three-square miles to make arrests.
But the deputies also reach out to the community and build relationships, Moses told county commissioners, to prevent crimes and help typically under-served populations.
COPS Unit deputies frequently deal with the local homeless population in Lexington Park.
"What we want to do is try to replicate that success in North County," Moses said.
If such a program were put into place, Moses said, the deputies would be responsible for an area from Route 245 north all the way up to the border with Charles County in Charlotte Hall.
After three years, Commissioner John O'Connor said, the county would have to pay for the deputies that had been funded by the grant money or reapply for the grant.
O'Connor said residents in North County, with densely populated areas such as Golden Beach and Country Lakes in Mechanicsville, had long wanted more police presence for their neighborhoods.
"I've heard significantly from folks in the Golden Beach area 'Why don't we have the same level of policing… that's down in Lexington Park?'" O'Connor said. "I think it meets a need the community is asking for."
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