Don’t pinch pennies when it comes to public safety

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008

I was angered at the recent Maryland Independent article where the Charles County commissioners attacked Sheriff Rex W. Coffey regarding his request for additional officers to protect county residents [‘‘Commissioners cool to proposal for more police,” Maryland Independent, Jan. 25].

The commissioners claimed funding shortfalls, and instead recommended the formation of another politically correct community-based outreach program that would take sheriff’s deputies off the streets and occupy their time in numerous meetings and hand-holding sessions with various minority groups pushing their own personal agendas.

There didn’t seem to be a funding shortfall when bailing out the Capital Clubhouse partners or the Maryland Blue Crabs investors, but these commissioners decided to go into penny-pinching mode when it comes to the safety of Charles County residents.

Is this the type of leadership that Charles County needs to solve the county’s problems? The commissioners’ dismissive approach to the sheriff’s request and the crime problem in the county flies in the face of the most recent crime statistics clearly showing an increase in violent crime of more than 36 percent. It is crystal clear to any Charles County resident who reads the Maryland Independent that Charles County has a crime problem and it’s getting worse, as the most recent crime statistics clearly show.

What are the Charles County commissioners prepared to do to meaningfully address the serious problem of violent crime in the county?

It matters not where the violent crime comes from. The fact is, it is here and county commissioners choose to ignore and berate our duly elected law enforcement professional rather than seriously address the issue by seeking to reallocate funds from lower-priority Charles County programs to this issue which should clearly be a top priority.

In a phone conversation with Commissioners F. Wayne Cooper and Samuel N. Graves on Jan. 25 it was made clear to me that the commissioners do not intend to re-examine or reallocate county resources to support the sheriff’s request in full or in part. It was stated the county’s resident-to-law-enforcement-officer ratio of 1 officer per 500 residents as recommended by the FBI is being met and supported.

Business as usual is unacceptable, and tough decisions are needed now not more of the same. If you want to express your concerns to the commissioners regarding the escalating crime rate, call them at 301-645-0550 or 301-870-3000.

Willard Carney, Waldorf