County Council's New State Police Plan

Sussex County Online User Forums: Sussex County Delaware Discussion Forum: County Council's New State Police Plan
By Eric Magill on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 12:50 pm:

Since Sussex County Council didn't see fit to allow public comment on its proposal to spend millions of tax dollars for additional state police protection that Sussex County taxpayers already pay for with their state tax dollars, we thought you might like an opportunity to voice your opinions here.

Is this a good thing for the county, or do you view this as we do: a back-room deal between county council, Sen. George H. Bunting Jr., and the state police to counter the effort by Sheriff Robert Reed to turn his department back into a law enforcement agency.

By twilliams on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 01:46 pm:

Any additional law enforcement for the county is a good thing. But the county should not subsidize state government. Aside from the obvious lack of control the county has over the use of the product it is getting. How about this.

The DSTA negotiates with the State for salary issues. The next time their contract comes up, is the county going to be invited or will they just continue to pay out whatever the State says a trooper gets paid.

By Eric Magill on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 - 02:38 pm:

I should rephrase the question. Obviously, it's good for the county to have more police protection, but is this really the direction the county's residents wanted to go in?

I wasn't a big fan of Sheriff Reed's plan last year because I didn't think it was feasible and I didn't vote for Sheriff with the idea that the Sheriff would head up a 32-person police force.

But I do believe the county has sold out the taxpayers with a back-room deal to go into essentially the same kind of program Sen. Bunting was told the county had no interest in last January (2001).

If you'll remember back to Jan. 2001, when Sen. Bunting presented his plan for the county to pay for 20 new state troopers, he was told it was the state's responsibility, not the county's, to provide additional state police.

But now, council members have approved a similar plan because Sen. Bunting joined them in their efforts to stymie Sheriff Reed with a Constitutional amendment that would have made the Sheriff's position appointed rather than elected.

Whether you agree with them or not, Sheriff Reed does have a lot of supporters for what he's trying to do, and county council owed it to the citizens of this county to let them decide if they wanted to be protected by a county force or by a state police force that has a poor track record in providing police protection here.

By twilliams on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 08:44 am:

Apparently the "cost sharing" for this deal does not kick in right away. The county is paying 100% of the training and equipment costs for these troopers. After that they will be paying 61% of their salaries. This deal gets worse and worse the mre you look at it.

By Mike Mason on Tuesday, April 09, 2002 - 10:51 pm:

Has Sussex County Council conducted a study on the long term costs of a County Police Department rather than the escalating costs of the State Police? If the study reveals in the long term a savings of county resident tax dollars, a County Police Department would seem prudent. Due to Constitutional limitations on the Sherrifs Departments authority, that department should be abolished, and a new charter formed to enable Sussex County tax payers to have their own Police Department. This has worked in New Castle County for years. The County would need to make an agreement with the State Police regarding juridicional boundries, ie.. developments, major crimes, cities.

By M. Opaliski on Wednesday, April 10, 2002 - 02:45 am:

Mike ...

Contrary to popular belief there are no constitutional limitations to the Office Of Sheriff in the state of Delaware. In fact it is exactly the opposite, the Sheriffs in the three counties are by all means the Chief Conservators of the Peace and would have unlimited jurisdiction throughout their respective county ... the same as does the AG's Office throughout the entire state. This is the for lack of a better term, the "bare bones" of the argument. The Sheriff has the authority, constitutionally, what Sussex County and the State Government is lacking are elected officials that can and will accept that fact and in turn do something about it.

By twilliams on Wednesday, April 10, 2002 - 11:36 am:

Mike, you make a very valid point about the long term concerns of cost sharing v. county police. After all, I'm sure our county government will not be involved in any way during contract negotiations between the DSTA and the State.

There is also no need to abolish the Sheriff's office, one still exists in New Castle COunty right now even with NCCPD. The same can be said for many counties on the western shore of MD, Anne Arundel, Prince Georges, and Montgomery to mane a few, all have both County PD's and County Sheriff's. This is possible because the authority of the Sheriff's office goes beyond "traditional" policing duties, ecompassing court and prisoner responsibilites as well.

That being said could you explain this comment you made.

"Due to Constitutional limitations on the Sherrifs Departments authority"

Most everything I have read leads to a lack of statutory authority, not Constitutional authority.

By mikemason on Wednesday, April 10, 2002 - 05:54 pm:

thats correct, My Mistake, but if you cannot do something one way, do it another. Make sure that you cover all the areas that are not covered by the the other. I've been in this game before and have had to deal with it on a day to day basis. Believe me, it will cost the taxpayers much less in the long run to go with a County Police rather than be subjected to the tradition method of buying State Troopers on a temporary basis with the promise of absorbing the ultimate cost in 5-6 years. Well then, the ante goes up because as the population grows and the overdevelopment continues down here, you are still going to need more police and the vicous cycle will go on and on and on. The best scenerio would be to have command and control over your own department within the limitations of the Statutes. Before you can do any of this "STUFF", you got to be smart. LAY OUT THE GROUNDWORK, Get the legislation , come up with a plan and then execute it. Then you have to keep the POLITICAL COUGHERS out of the equasion and get good honest down to earth people to manage it and keep it that way. Believe me, the taxpayer will appreciate it!!!! Finally, Let the Sheriffs office do what they do best. Converting the Sheriffs office to a County Police is not the answer because there will still be that shadow hanging over the entire department for years to come.

By drichardson on Wednesday, April 10, 2002 - 07:19 pm:

I believe that some of your ideas are ok, however, the cost of going to all the trouble of creating a new department is unreasonable to the residents of the county. The Sheriffs office now has everything they need to become a full law enforcement agency and complete the work that has traditionally been assigned to them. They are handling 3 times the amount of work they were handling when reed took over, and have not increased manpower. This shows that the deputies are willing to step up and work for a Sheriff like Reed.

By twilliams on Thursday, April 11, 2002 - 08:41 am:

"if you cannot do something one way, do it another. Make sure that you cover all the areas that are not covered by the the other"

You lost me!?

"it will cost the taxpayers much less in the long run to go with a County Police rather than be subjected to the tradition method of buying State Troopers on a temporary basis"

I agree with the concept, but I'm not sure you can convince the COucny Council of this. After all, minimum start up costs for a new fuul-service agency would have to be in the 6-8 million dollar range, the county is only paying 3.8 million over 4 years for these troopers. What I find interesting is the way this agreemetn is set up. The county pays for the training and equipment plus 69% of the salary, or about 28,000. That is just about what Reed's proposal was for a starting salary for deputies. In essence the county is hiring the officers Reed proposed at the same cost to the county, only the state controls them, not the county.

"The best scenerio would be to have command and control over your own department "

Again, I agree.

"there will still be that shadow hanging over the entire department for years to come."

News Flash! There will be a shodaow over ANY county funded, county wide polie agency whether it spins out of the Sheriff's office or is started anew. NCCPD has been around for decades and only unitl recently have they really begun to smooth things out with DSP regarding jurisdiction, prioity calls etc.

"the cost of going to all the trouble of creating a new department is unreasonable to the residents of the county"

There would not be a significant difference when talking about expanding the sheriff's office and starting a similarly sized police agency, maybe 250,000. That's a drop in the bucket in a 5 or 6 million dollar proposal.

Not that I disagree with Sheriff Reed and his proposal, I just think the two would still be similarly costly.

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