State No Longer Considering Cuts State Police Aviation Service

State No Longer Considering Cuts State Police Aviation Service
File photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — The state’s Board of Public Works on Wednesday reversed course on the proposed elimination of one of the Maryland State Police (MSP) Aviation medevac units on the Eastern Shore and ordered no action be taken on the proposed budget cuts.

During its July meeting, the state’s three-member Board of Public Works (BPW) considered several significant budget cuts in the wake of anticipated revenue shortfalls due to COVID-19. Among the budget cuts on the table was the elimination of one of the MSP Aviation Command’s medevac units on the Eastern Shore, including Trooper 4, which provides critical emergency service to Worcester County and the Ocean City area.

The BPW was considering grounding either Trooper 4, which provides critical medevac services to Ocean City and Worcester County for all manner of medical emergencies, or the Trooper 6 unit in Easton. The potential savings to the state include $1.3 million from reduced aviation insurance, maintenance and overtime associated with closing one of the MSP Aviation bases on the shore and selling one of the helicopters, along with another $490,000 in estimated fuel and maintenance savings in the aviation division.

At the close of Wednesday’s meeting, Maryland Comptroller and BPW member Peter Franchot suggested his colleagues on the board not eliminate one of the MSP Aviation bases on the Eastern Shore and his fellow board members concurred.

State Senator Mary Beth Carozza (R-38), who represents Ocean City and Worcester County, announced the BPW decision to reverse course on the proposed MSP Aviation cuts following Wednesday’s meeting.

“Thank you to all who have been fighting to keep the Maryland State Police helicopters and units from devastating budget cuts,” she said. “Your voice is being heard. At today’s Board of Public Works, Governor Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp ordered that not action take place regarding any base closure or MSP helicopter sale until a comprehensive aviation study is completed and vetted.”

When the proposed budget cuts were announced in late July, Carozza fired off a letter to MSP Superintendent Colonel Woodrow W. “Jerry” Jones III, urging him to fight to keep the critical medevac services open on the Eastern Shore. On Wednesday, Carozza referenced that letter.

“The possible budget cuts to the Eastern Shore’s MSP medevac services truly would have a life-threatening negative impact to my constituents and other shore residents and visitors, especially in the remote rural areas on the shore like Smith Island, and in Ocean City, which swells to the second largest city in Maryland during the season,” she wrote.

Carozza especially thanked members of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, the Maryland Chiefs Association and the Professional Firefighters of Maryland, who joined together to call for full funding to maintain the current MSP medevac services on the shore. When the BPW announced the proposed cuts in July, lawmakers across the Eastern Shore immediately petitioned the BPW members to reverse the decision.

“Obviously, losing a medevac aviation unit and potentially having to depend on units from other parts of the state would not only be detrimental, but life-threatening to the citizens on the Eastern Shore,” it reads. “Quite simply, the Eastern Shore is not the area to scale back healthcare services for the purpose of statewide budget cuts.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.