Sheriff’s Office Says It Faces Difficulty In Hiring, Retaining Deputies

It also asks for help with School Resource Officer program.


Frederick, Md (KM). Hiring and retaining uniformed personnel is a  problem facing all law enforcement agencies, including the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. During a meeting with the County Council last week, Major Tim Clarke with the Sheriff’s Office presented some statistics. “Currently, we are authorized at 193 officers, and this is law enforcement. We currently have 184 actual strength. We’re nine short of our goal,” he says.

In 2014, he says, the Sheriff’s Office’s  authorized strength was 182. At the end of 2018, the Sheriff’s Office had 182. “That gives you kind of an idea of how difficult it’s been to hire in law enforcement,” says Major Clarke.

Sheriff Chuck Jenkins says the agency offers a competitive salary and benefits package. But many surrounding jurisdictions. offer higher pay for law enforcement officers who’ve received their experience in Frederick County. “We are probably less attractive for sure than Montgomery County and Howard County. We’re more attractive, obviously, than the western regions. So we lose people when they look at the benefits,” he says. “As a new employee, they also look at the benefits on the back end: the health care, post retirement benefits. They look at draw programs that exist in most jurisdictions. That’s where we’re losing people.”

Sheriff Jenkins also said Montgomery and Howard Counties have also been recruiting young deputies.  “They’re looking at a lateral starting salary of 60,000.  We can’t compete with that,” he said.

As part of its budget request, the Sheriff’s Office is asking  for 15 additional deputies to handle in the increasing calls for service. “We currently have two recruits in the Frederick Police Department’ Academy, and eight in the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Academy,” says Major Clarke.

There was also discussion about  the School Resource Officer program. The Sheriff’s Office has assigned deputies in all of the county’s public high schools for a couple of years. Last year, the Maryland General Assembly, in response to the mass shooting at a Florida high school, passed the School Safety Act. It requires all school districts to have a deputy or an officer in all schools for security, or to make sure adequate security is provided for each school.

“We don’t really foresee adding additional personnel,” said the Sheriff. “But would I’d like to see is for the Frederick City Police Department to take the city’s high schools, TJ and Frederick High, and take those SRO’s and place them in both Tuscarora {High School} and Urbana {High School} where we now need a second deputy,”he says.

The Sheriff says the Brunswick, Thurmont and Mount Airy Police Departments have agreed to cover the schools in their jurisdictions.

There are currently 13 school resource officers for the county’s ten high schools and their feeder schools. Ten are stationed at the high schools, and three are assigned as needed. “I think we can better cover our schools if everybody looks at where we need to be, if municipalities participate like I think they will, and they should,” says Jenkins.

As for the part of the School Safety Act about making sure there’s adequate security at each school, the Sheriff says that the definition of “adequate security” is still rather vague, but he says he and his staff are working on that. “Adequate security, whatever we say that’s going to be that’s going to be fine until something bad happens. And then it’s not going to be good enough,” he says.


By Kevin McManus