Manpower shortage, Heroin Crisis Challenge Harford Sheriff’s Office

County Executive Glassman increases budget to sheriff’s office to help close gaps.

The Harford County Sheriff’s Office has 25 vacancies at a time when the county continues to grapple with a heroin crisis. As officials keep a close and concerned eye on the growing presence of carfentanil and an increase in overdose deaths within the county that has already exceeded 2016 levels, County Executive Barry Glassman has committed to an increase in the office’s budget to help retain and increase the office’s manpower.  Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler presented these issues at a recent County Council work session.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

While the county’s principal law enforcement agency is getting a boost in funding to provide raises for its sworn officers, the Sheriff’s Office has “25 holes in our schedule that we’re carrying,” Gahler said during a recent work session with the County Council on his agency’s proposed $76.5 million budget for fiscal 2018.

“Any time we have a vacancy, it’s a [risk] to the citizens in not having a deputy out there on the street,” Gahler said.

The 25 “holes” the sheriff referred to includes 10 vacant positions among law enforcement deputies and 15 graduates of the Sheriff’s Office police academy who, following their late April graduation, must go through weeks of field training before they can hit the road on their own.

Gahler told council members that his investigators are watching for the drug to show up in Harford County, warning them “carfentanil is coming” and that “it’s going to kill a lot more people.”

“We know where this is going to lead us, to even higher numbers on our boards,” Gahler said.

The proposed $76.5 million budget for next year comes with a net increase of nearly $2 million more than the $74.5 million Sheriff’s Office budget approved for this year.

Glassman is committing $2.2 million for the first year of salary increases for deputies, along with $317,344 to cover a 4 percent merit salary increase for civilian employees — he is funding 4 percent salary increases for all eligible county employees, his third annual employee salary increase.

Gahler told council members he expects “all the compression issues to some degree will be nearly fully addressed.”

“It is a very fair and equitable plan for the men and women of the sheriff’s office in their sworn roles and capacities,” he said.

Read the full article in The Baltimore Sun to learn more.