After requests for a stronger law enforcement presence in smaller Washington County cities, the county and the Washington County Sheriff’s Department introduced the Community Deputy Program.
“There are some smaller municipalities in Washington County that are at the size where they aren’t large enough where they need police force, but they have some issues going on that they would like the presence of a police officer none-the-less,” Wayne Keefer, Washington County Commissioner, said.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Department plans to hire a full time community deputy to oversee Sharpsburg, Reedsville, Clear Spring and Williamsport.
“They saw some issues that they wanted to have addressed more frequently, such as running a stop sign and traffic enforcement,” Sheriff Doug Mullendore, Washington County Sheriff’s Department, said.
That deputy will split the work week between the four cities through a cost-sharing agreement between them and the county.
While the cities will split salary costs, Washington County has agreed to cover vehicle and equipment costs.
“It’s with the understanding that this deputy may be assigned into a municipality. If there is an incident that takes place in the county, maybe a serious incident that needs all-hands-on-deck or maybe a nearby incident that they’re the closest, they are expected to be called to the scene for that incident,” Keefer said.
Commissioners are saying they are happy with the newly formed partnership.
“It’s important that we have more deputies on the streets for the presence, if nothing else. If people see that presence of a deputy on the street, where in the past they have not, that in itself is a deterrent,” Keefer said.
The Sheriff’s Department said there was once a similar program with a deputy in Sharpsburg and Keedysville; Williamsport currently has a deputy.
“Certainly, if they feel they need some additional coverage, we’re willing work with them to provide that,” Sheriff Mullendore said.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Department expects the program to start next June.