One of the goals is forging partnerships with the community.
Frederick, Md (KM). Community partnerships and engagement is one of the goals of the Strategic Plan developed by the Frederick Police Department. Chief Ed Hargis says it’s a way to encourage positive interactions between officers and citizens. “From day one since I’ve been here, I’ve encouraged the officers on a Saturday afternoon, if you’re driving around and you see an individual on the front lawn cutting grass, raking the yard or whatever, just stop, get out of the car, and see if there’s any issues going on the neighborhood,” he says. “Just that small type of contact goes a long way in the community, and you never know what kind of information you’re going to be able to develop.”
Chief Hargis was a guest Tuesday on the “Morning News Express” on WFMD. He also noted that his officers try to make contacts with the immigrants who live in Frederick. “Potentially, they’re witnesses or victims of crimes and we don’t them to be afraid of coming forward and reporting it,” he says. “If they see an individual that is robbed out on the street, I’d like to have the information that they have so that we can get that individual responsible for the robbery apprehended as quickly as possible.”
But Hargis says the Frederick Police Department is not involved with the 287g program from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which checks the immigration status of the suspects arrested by participating law enforcement agencies. If they’re here illegally, federal officials will have them deported. “We don’t get involved in ICE enforcement. We don’t go out looking for illegals,” he says.
The Directions from the Strategic Plan also include Crime Fighting, Public Safety and Operations; Personnel Development; and Facilities, Resources and Technology.
For years, there’s been talk about a new headquarters for the Frederick Police Department,which is currently housed in the County Court House. The Chief says he doesn’t want the new headquarters to be located in the downtown. “I don’t want to be directly downtown. Obviously, that’s where all the special events are, and we’re moving cars in and out for various reasons. To drive through the Kris Kringle Parade doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he says.
He says the Department is looking at the outside edges of the downtown. Those sites are being evaluated by an architectural firm, and the Chief hopes to present that evaluation to the Board of Aldermen in March.
On another topic, Chief Hargis says it’s not easy recruiting men and women who want to become police officers. “When I started back in 1982, there were 3,000 people showing up for one police job. We don’t get those numbers anymore,” he says. “If you want to be a police officer in today’s market, you can pretty much pick what city, what part of the country you want to work in because everybody is looking for police officers.”
The Chief says the Frederick Police Department has 148 officers. There are eight who are in training at the police academy, and one who is a lateral hire, someone who has worked at another police agency and wants to work in Frederick. But he notes there are a number of officers who are on leave for illness, injury or other reasons.
He says there are enough officers for crime fighting, investigation and other law enforcement duties. But he says some extra officers could make a difference. There would be “more traffic enforcement in the neighborhoods, more getting the officers out of the cars and on bikes in the summertime. But when you don’t have the numbers in patrol because you have those higher numbers in training that are unavailable to you, people tend to say ‘I don’t see the police officers out in the neighborhoods like I use to,'” the Chief says.
By Kevin McManus