Wicomico ‘In Dire Need’ Of Deputies

SALISBURY – Three new positions in the Wicomico County Sheriff’s office are expected to provide additional law enforcement capabilities.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council introduced a legislative bill to create three new positions in the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office. Additional personnel would include two deputy first class positions and one corporal position.

But before the council could vote, Sheriff Mike Lewis shared his concerns regarding the passage of a legislative bill, which takes effect 60 days after its adoption.

Lewis told the council he had asked for three additional positions in the county’s fiscal year 2020 budget, which goes into effect July 1. But he said the legislative bill to create those positions would go into effect well after the start of police academy training.

“I ask if we are going to make this a separate legislative issue … I hope you can make this happen before July 1 and before the next academy starts,” he said.

Lewis explained any delay in creating the three positions could force prospective applicants to turn to other agencies.

“Salisbury Police Department and Fruitland are vying for the same pool of candidates,” he said. “And for the first time, I have an extremely interested and talented Haitian individual that speaks Creole fluently and it’s something that’s been needed in our community for quite some time.”

While he apologized for the delay, Council President John Cannon stressed the legislative process needed to be followed.

“These are the formal steps that have to be taken if we want to add three new deputies …,” he said. “One would be the legislative bill to establish those positions formally, and the second element of that is where we approve the funding for those positions in the budget.”

While the council could hold a public hearing and subsequent vote as early as June 18, the bill would go into effect 60 days after its passage. To that end, officials proposed drafting emergency legislation.

“If you consider this as emergency legislation, it can go into effect right away,” Council Administrator Laura Hurley said, “the date it is voted on.”

The council voted unanimously to introduce the legislative bill and conceptually agreed to support emergency legislation at its June 18 meeting.

“I have not had any increase in positions in the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, as you well know, since I’ve been there,” Lewis said. “We’ve filled existing vacancies, but we’ve had no increase in personnel at all … We are in dire need of personnel. This is the number one request I have.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.