BERLIN – The Berlin Town Council this week approved a public safety mutual aid agreement with Worcester County contingent upon the addition of the Maryland State Police.
In a meeting Tuesday, Police Chief Arnold Downing told the council the agreement has been a longstanding practice in Berlin. He explained that the municipality and the county enter into such agreements to lend assistance, manpower and equipment across jurisdictions.
“We believe the only reason this has actually been revisited is we’ve had a change in statute …,” he said. “It’s a housecleaning type measure.”
Downing asked that the council approve the agreement, but pointed out the Maryland State Police was not mentioned in the document.
David Gaskill, the town’s attorney, briefed the council on the agreement.
“This agreement says that only the (Worcester County) Sheriff’s Office can request Berlin town police to go outside town limits,” he said. “It does not address the state police.”
Mayor Gee Williams asked Downing if the town could add the Maryland State Police to the agreement.
“We can make a comment to them and it will either be a whole separate agreement or it will be added,” Downing replied.
Williams recommended the state agency be added to the document.
“I make a suggestion that we add ‘and Maryland State Police,’” he said.
Downing, however, explained that the town could not name the Maryland State Police, but would simply refer to the agency as “or another”.
“The reason we would say ‘or another’ is because they (the county) don’t want to put Maryland State Police in the agreement,” he said.
Williams vehemently disapproved.
“Why the hell don’t they?” he said. “I’m tired of this bull—-, really. They are our police. They are protecting the people in the state of Maryland. Why are they afraid to put their name on a document like that? I want to know.”
Downing clarified that it was a question to ask the county, not the state police.
“The question is why the county did not put the state police on the agreement,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the state police.”
Williams retorted that the county should give an explanation.
“This Mayor and Council is signing an agreement and they don’t want to accept our inclusion of Maryland State Police,” he said. “I’d like someone to come from the county commissioners and explain why.”
Downing corrected Williams.
“I don’t think the county commissioners wrote this document …,” he said. “We should call their attorneys and say, ‘Hey, you missed Maryland State Police,’ and be done.”
Williams asked if the council should approve the document.
“Quite frankly I think this Mayor and Council has the authority and responsibility to add that in,” he said. “Then if they want to contest it let them come here …”
Gaskill suggested officials approve the document with contingencies.
“Here’s a simple resolution,” he said. “Why don’t the Mayor and Council approve this mutual aid agreement contingent on the state police being added …”
Councilman Dean Burrell made a motion to accept the agreement with the contingency that the Maryland State Police is added to the document. The council unanimously voted to support the motion.
Williams continued to express his frustration over what he called “bureaucratic crap.”
“I know it’s there,” he said. “It’s never going away, but I reserve the right to make my feelings known.”