The Anne Arundel County Police Department was founded in 1937 by an act of the Maryland State Legislature, in recognition of the need for better and more consistent police services for the citizens of the county. At that time, there were 21 men on the department, including the Chief.
The police department is tasked with detecting and preventing crime, while ensuring the safety and general welfare of the public-by enforcing laws, protecting lives, property, and the rights of citizens. See the links below for more detailed information.
Background: A. A. Co. in the 1930's
Anne Arundel is one of Maryland's largest counties. For much of its history, Anne Arundel County has been a largely rural area, famous for its farms, which produced everything from tomatoes, strawberries, and cantaloupes to quality smoking tobacco. Even though most of the tobacco and vegetable farms are gone, south county is still known as horse country and, even today, with so much development and community expansion, you will still find beautiful tracts of farmland in Southern District's "lower end."
In 1937, the county had a population of 64,201 people in its 416 square mile area. Many back roads, and even a few main roads, were unpaved. Begun in the mid-1930’s, Governor Ritchie Highway would not be complete until 1939. Small summer cottages could be found along many of the rivers, and people took the train from Baltimore to relax "in the country." Many of the bridges that we know today did not exist. If you wanted to get to the Eastern Shore, you took the ferry from Spa Creek for a 45-minute ride to Kent Island. (Ferry service would not be shifted to Sandy Point until 1944.) The Great Depression would not end for another two years.
Law enforcement in the 1930's was much less sophisticated. Vacuum tube equipped two-way radios, or "transceivers," were bulky, expensive, and easily damaged. Many police departments, including Anne Arundel County's, started with cars equipped to receive transmissions only, the officers on patrol having to find a telephone or call box if they wished to communicate with the dispatcher. Not every residence had a telephone in the 1930's, so it was usual for businesses in the area to be used by officers in need of a "land line."
Prior to 1937, most police work in the county was handled by the sheriff and his deputies, with occasional assistance from what was then known as the Maryland State Highway Patrol, coming out of the Waterloo Barracks. In addition, the County Commissioners had the power to appoint Special Officers, who were authorized to make "citizen arrests" in the various election districts of the county. Bills for maintenance of this Special Police system were submitted to the Commissioners for payment. As in many other jurisdictions of the time, a job as a Special Police Officer sometimes depended on knowing someone with a contact in local politics. Firearms and nightsticks were considered essential, but training with this equipment was often spotty at best, and sometimes non-existent. "Do as I do" training was sometimes used to break in a newly appointed officer. College degrees were extremely rare, with a high school diploma being considered more than adequate for a police officer’s job.
1937: The Saga Begins
In 1937, by an act of the Maryland State Legislature, the Anne Arundel County Police Department was formed. This was done in recognition of the need for better and more consistent police service for the citizens of the county. The department had an initial strength of 21 men: a Chief, 3 Sergeants, and 17 Patrolmen. The work schedule was 12-hour days, 6 days a week. The department's first Chief, John H. Souers, Jr., was appointed by the Governor. Chief Souers had been a sergeant in the Ferndale Election District's Special Police. He had gained some notoriety by helping to solve the murder of a woman in the Stoney Creek area of the county, and would serve as Chief for the next 14 years. Formal appointment as an officer with the new department was determined by the newly formed Board of Police Commissioners. This was a group composed of the Police Chief, a medical doctor, and the County Commissioners. Officers had to be between 24 and 40 years of age. Starting salary for patrolmen was $1,200 per year. Sergeants were paid $1,620, and the Chief's salary was $1,800 per year. Most of the officers who formed the new department came from the various election districts’ Special Police, and brought with them the police experience gained there. Headquarters was located in Ferndale, with three substations at Mountain Road, Eastport, and Galesville. Administrative offices at Ferndale were located on the first floor along with a magistrate’s court. Five jail cells in the basement were described in a news article of the time as "up to date, fireproof, and completely sanitary."
The new department was equipped with four patrol cars and one patrol wagon, each equipped with a one-way radio receiver. Headquarters and the Galesville substation were equipped with two-way radios, operating on an A.M. frequency, which were used to dispatch calls and maintain contact between stations. There was also a radio receiver link to monitor Baltimore City Police. Department vehicles were black, with the department's emblem on the sides. With only four patrol cars and such a large area to cover, response time to non-emergency type calls in some areas could be a day or more.
The officer's uniform consisted of a navy blue blouse and trousers, with a gray long sleeve uniform shirt, blue tie, and five point military or "bus driver" style navy blue hat. The long sleeve shirt and tie were worn all year round, with the blouse added for cold weather and a "reefer" type overcoat for very cold conditions. The overcoat had a split in the side pocket so that the officer's holster could be pulled through. In very hot conditions, the men were allowed to take off their tie and open one top button on the shirt. (Remember, in 1937 air-conditioned buildings were still a novelty, and the department's first air-conditioned patrol cars were still 30 years in the future!) A black leather gun belt was worn, along with a Sam Brown strap, for use with the blouse. A small frame Colt caliber .38 special revolver with four-inch barrel was the standard firearm, but officers could buy and carry their own gun as long as it fired .38 caliber ammunition. A wide variety of grips were also allowed, with some officers having fancy stag or other material. Spare ammunition and a pair of handcuffs were carried on the belt. The first official rules and regulations manual for the department, published June 1, 1937, contained 61 printed pages. It could easily fit into a uniform shirt pocket.
The 1940's: Growth & Service
Recognizing the need for better investigation of crimes and certain criminal activity, in 1947 the County Commissioners gave Chief Souers the authority to create a Detective Bureau. With an authorized strength of not more than five detectives, their activities would be overseen directly by the Chief. This was the first specialized unit in the department. In addition, at this time the Chief of Police was authorized to appoint and promote officers and to hire civilian clerks to work at the district stations.
In 1948, post World War II advancement in the electronics field made two-way radio communications more practical. It was in that year that the department installed new F.M. frequency radio sets in all its patrol cars and stations. It was recognized that better communications between the dispatcher and officers on patrol would reduce call response time. A two-way radio link was also established with the Maryland State Police Barracks at Waterloo and the Annapolis City Police Department. These radio links would allow better cooperation and coordination between agencies, a striving for inter-agency cooperation that would continue in the coming years.
The county population continued to grow and, in 1949, a new station was built in Edgewater. Personnel from Eastport and Galesville were moved into this new facility. At this same time, the Mountain Road station was closed, and the officers from there moved into the Headquarters building at Ferndale. These moves were made in an effort to provide more efficient police coverage of the county. The department’s work force was also increased to 40 Patrolmen, 1 Captain, 4 Lieutenants, and 9 Sergeants. Also in 1949, a new 8 hour, 6-day work week was created for the officers.
Many of the officers joining the department during this time (1945 and on) had seen military service. Their training was a valuable asset to the department in these early years of growth and change. They would help create and define the role of county police officer and citizen expectation of the quality of law enforcement in the county.
The 1950's: Specialization
As we moved into our second full decade, the department felt the need for an organizational and professional identity. In January of 1951, the Anne Arundel County Police Association was formed as a "social, fraternal, and non-political organization for the purpose of improving social relations among all the police officers of the A. A. Co. Police Department." Officer Allen Stevenson was listed as its first president. One of the first things on the Association's agenda was to meet with the County Commissioners about better working conditions and a raise in salaries. Another concern was better protection for officers’ wives and families in case of an officer's death. It was reported that officers did receive a pay raise of $300 a year, and a group life insurance policy was arranged for each member in the amount of $1,000.
During this period, training classes for new officers were held upstairs at the Ferndale Station. Some training also took place at the Maryland National Guard Armory. The Maryland State Police also held training sessions for "local law enforcement" at their academy in Pikesville. The training course was 12 weeks, and officers received training in criminal and traffic law, and proper use of the espadon (wood baton). Firearms training was done at Fort Meade or one of the local pistol ranges.
During this time, the value of juvenile or "youth bureaus" to help deal with the rising crime rate among troubled young people was being recognized throughout the United States. In 1957, recognizing the county's need for such a service, the department's first Juvenile Division was created, headed by then Sergeant Lloyd M. Smith and staffed by two officers. Between March 1, 1957 and October of 1959, the new division handled some 2,000 juvenile cases involving everything from stolen candy bars to stolen cars.
As the 1950's progressed, improvements in roads and bridges in the county continued. Ritchie Highway had been completed in 1939 (one lane in each direction, with a blinking light at what was then known as Robinson's Corner) and the new high speed limited access Maryland Route 50 was under construction. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge was being built and would open in July of 1952. These improvements would bring more vehicle traffic moving through the county, with a corresponding need for better traffic enforcement. By 1957, the county was seeing a sharp rise in traffic accidents and fatalities resulting from them. There were 1,278 traffic accidents recorded in that year. In 1958, an Accident Investigation Unit was formed with a sergeant and five officers. These officers would be able to provide investigations that were more thorough and increase enforcement of traffic laws.
Between 1940 and 1950, Anne Arundel County's population increased from 68,375 to 117,392. By 1953, it had increased to about 132,000. This "baby boom" would increase the strain on the county infrastructure and force a "building boom" in school construction.
In 1959, the department took on yet another area of public safety responsibility. The School Crossing Guard Program was formed to replace a system run in a rather casual manner by the public schools. The existing program offered no training and no standards for guard personnel. From the very beginning, the importance and value of the new program to the safety of the county's children was recognized. The 60 women picked to participate in the new Crossing Guard Program were required to meet certain standards. They were trained in first aid, self-defense tactics, and proper crossing techniques. Their uniforms were modeled after the uniform used by Marine Corps women, and they were required to pass a monthly inspection. Soon after its creation, members of the unit requested and got training in close order drill. The department took great pride in the unit, and the crossing guards often participated in parades and as a drill team. They were the frequent recipients of awards for their precision marching and smart appearance. Over the years since its creation, the dedicated people of the School Crossing Guard Program have been credited with preventing the injuries or deaths of an untold number of our school children.
With the increasing rate of serious crime in the county came the need for a more thorough crime scene investigation. In 1959, the department purchased its first Mobile Crime Laboratory, a Chevrolet step van equipped with everything considered necessary for crime scene protection and investigation at that time. This included 800 feet of rope to cordon off a crime scene, measuring tape, a 14-foot extension ladder, a camera with telescopic lens, and various items for collecting crime scene clues, such as a maul, glass cutters, knives, saws, metal snips, crowbars, shovels, picks, axes, and a hatchet. Battery powered hand lights, a fire extinguisher, and first aid kit were also included. For protection of those working with the laboratory, there were asbestos gloves, rubber gloves, coveralls, hip boots, and even mosquito repellent. The vehicle also doubled as a sort of special weapons van, being equipped with gas masks, a tear gas gun, and specialized rounds (including parachute flares). Hand and blast grenades were also carried, according to a description of the vehicle's equipment given at the time. One report called it "one of the most important additions made to the department in many years."
The 1960's: Social Change & Challenges
As the department entered the 60's, few could have guessed the amount of challenge and change that would occur by the end of the decade. This decade would see the Charter form of government created in the county and a greater emphasis on citizen participation in local government. The atmosphere of social change would put new strains on the department. Nationwide, the relationship between the police officer and the community, and the individual citizen and law enforcement, would undergo a re-evaluation. The need for long-term efforts, not just to fight crime but also to prevent it, would be recognized. The use of dangerous and illegal drugs would rise to a new level all over the U.S., and police everywhere would find themselves in a "war against drugs." The result would bring many changes and innovations in the way the department carried out its mission for serving the citizens of the county.
In 1960, a merit system for county employees was put in place. The old un-official "patronage" system that had been the norm for so many years was losing favor. Under the new system, those seeking county employment would take a standard test.
In 1963, the Department hired its first two policewomen. Prevailing attitudes meant that these first female officers were given non-patrol type duties, one being assigned to the Juvenile Division and the other to the Detective Bureau. Patrol work was not considered a "woman's job," and these first female officers were in the forefront of what would be a long battle for equality. It would take years, many changes in social attitudes, and hard work by women's groups across the country before women would be allowed an expanded role in law enforcement.
In 1965, Anne Arundel County formally adopted home rule and the County Charter form of government. This meant a complete reorganization of county government, and the election of a County Council and County Executive.
In this same year, a voluntary Community Relations Council was created. Its two main objectives were to get the public more involved in its own safety and to help law enforcement identify more with the community they serve.
It was during this period (1965), that the department's first two black officers were hired. These men were pioneers in a time when, because of prevailing social attitudes, most blacks did not feel welcome in law enforcement professions. Just as with the female officers, they too would be fighting in the front lines of social change.
Also in 1965, the department opened its new million dollar Headquarters building in Millersville. By the end of the decade, "centralization" would be considered a key to more efficient police work and, by the early 70's, all districts with the exception of Southern would operate out of the new central Headquarters building. Academy training would also be conducted there until the construction of the Academy at Davidsonville eleven years later.
Along with the new Headquarters building came a new communications center with state-of-the-art radio technology. Each of the three existing districts, Northern, Central, and Southern, was now given its own radio channel and separate dispatcher. A central emergency number was hooked into a bank of telephones manned by call takers.
A new officer’s uniform was created. A white long sleeve shirt replaced the old gray color, and a lighter blue pant replaced the dark blue. A blue Stetson style hat replaced the heavier cloth five-pointed style. The officers would still wear the blouse and Sam Brown belt, with a reefer added for extremely cold weather. A new six-inch barrel heavy frame Colt .38 revolver became the issue weapon, and an effort was made to standardize all on-duty handguns. Each officer was issued 18 rounds of standard load .38 ammunition. Patrol vehicle color was also changed, cars becoming a two-toned blue, with the county seal appearing on the vehicles for the first time. In 1968, for the first time, in a concession to officer comfort, air conditioning was added to the patrol vehicles as standard equipment.
In addition, during this time, in an attempt to bring better-qualified recruits onto the department, a Police Service Officer (Cadet) Program was authorized by the County Council. Cadets had to be at least 18 years of age and a high school graduate. They would be assigned to clerical duties in all areas of the department's operations, including Communications and the I.D. Bureau. Most would go on to the Academy when they turned 21 and become police officers.
The new Charter Government meant that the department would now take over the administration of the County Detention Center. The Detention Center would remain under department control for almost the next 20 years.
The 60’s saw civil unrest and violence erupt in many places around the country. Baltimore and Washington, D.C. were both hit with riots and the looting and burning of businesses. While Anne Arundel County did not experience much of this type of violence, it was considered prudent to create a specialized unit able to handle civil unrest. The Tactical Unit was created and trained in riot and crowd control techniques and the use of CS and CN tear gas.
Traffic safety in the county was enhanced with the addition of the department's first radar units for speed enforcement. The department also acquired its first Breathalyzer machine, which would make drunken driving cases easier to prosecute. A county officer gave the first Breathalyzer test ever given in the state of Maryland. A polygraph unit within C.I.D. was also created, giving the department easier access to this investigative tool.
With their spacious new Headquarters facility, new technology, and new appearance, the turbulent 60’s drew to a close with the department having a renewed sense of purpose, setting an agenda that can still be seen reflected in today's operations.
The 1970's: Community Outreach & Development
Just as the 60’s were a time of unrest and challenge, the 70’s would be a time of experimentation in an attempt to address the causes of that unrest.
In 1970, the officers were granted a charter with the Fraternal Order of Police. F.O.P. Lodge #70 was formed, and from this time on would play an integral part in helping to improve wages, equipment, and working conditions. The first president of the lodge appointed before elections was Lt. George Mandris. The first elected president was Lt. Les Bates.
In 1972, after 35 years, the department's Northern District in Ferndale was closed, and all operations moved to the Headquarters building in Millersville.
By 1974, there were three African American officers on the department and less than a handful of women. It was in this year that the department would begin a concerted effort to recruit more women and minority officers. In addition, the decade of the 70's would finally see women officers in patrol duty functions on an equal basis with men.
The 70's would also see the introduction of the Personal Patrol Vehicle Program (P.P.V.) and an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course for patrol officers. Prior to this, patrol vehicles were kept in a common pool at each station. Vehicles were often run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Keeping these vehicles clean and in good repair was a major chore. The P.P.V. Program allowed an officer to take home a car, permitting better care to be taken of the vehicle, resulting in lower maintenance and repair costs. It also greatly increased the visible presence of police officers in the communities and on the roadways.
The department would also begin experimenting with short sleeve uniform shirts for summer wear and light jackets for transitional weather.
It was also during this time that the department was upgrading and improving its radio system, allowing each officer to be provided with a console/portable two-way radio for the first time.
Crime prevention was recognized as a means of giving citizens a greater voice and involvement in the law enforcement process. Operation Identification, in which items of value were engraved with driver’s license numbers, and stickers proclaiming Operation I.D. were placed on doors and windows, was begun. People were urged to join community security patrols and signs were posted in many communities announcing their participation. An effort was made to increase citizen attendance at Community Relations Council meetings, with department members in attendance to address citizens’ concerns. A telephone "call-in" service for seniors was begun and, by the end of the decade, there would be a Senior Citizens Advisory Council to further address the special needs of our senior citizens.
Since 1965, police training had been done primarily at the Headquarters building in Millersville. The pistol range at Fort Meade was usually used for firearms training. Until the mid-70's there was no special driver training for officers.
In 1975, the department was given the old U.S. Army NIKE Missile Site in Davidsonville. Through the hard work and talents of department personnel, the dilapidated military site was rewired, plumbing redone, buildings repaired and painted, and a host of other needed improvements made. Through the dedication and sweat equity of these officers, these repairs and improvements saved the county many thousands of dollars. Such dedication is reminiscent of the early years of the department, when scarcity of resources meant police personnel had to perform a great variety of jobs not necessarily associated with police work. When the Academy in Davidsonville opened in 1976, the department for the first time had an adequate and permanent training facility. The site included classrooms, a pistol range, and physical training areas.
Also in 1976, the Reserve Officer Training Program came into being. Reserve Officers would prove an invaluable aid in many areas, saving the department time and money in often thankless, but necessary, jobs. They would eventually take over many of the jobs once filled by the Cadet Program, which would be gradually phased out due to budgetary constraints.
The department would enter the computer age in this decade with the acquisition of support from a large mainframe computer. This allowed the comprehensive gathering of statistical information and the beginnings of an on-line booking system for prisoners. More automation of tasks would soon follow as the department gained more and better computer technology.
The county population had now grown close to 300,000 and was still climbing. More officers were being hired and, the large Headquarters building which a decade ago had been considered adequate for all police operations, was rapidly becoming overcrowded. This, combined with the new national trend to "put policing back into the communities," helped shape the department's decision to build a new Northern District Station. Located on Hammonds Lane and opened in 1978, it began the department's effort to get closer to the communities it serves.
The 1980's: Citizens & Communities
The 1980's could almost be described as an "enhancing the basics" decade, with the refining and expansion of community policing, crime prevention, and many other programs designed to make law enforcement more responsive to the citizen. New programs for school age children, a customized crime prevention van to tour the county and "take a bite out of crime," and other outreach programs were facilitated. Law Day became an annual event and allowed citizens to see how police work and to meet department personnel. The Reserve Officer Program expanded, bringing thousands of volunteer hours for the department.
Filling the need for localizing police presence closer to communities was seen by the completion of district stations. The conversion of the old Jacobsville School on Mountain Road into Eastern District was completed in 1984. Western District, being newly constructed on Telegraph Road, opened in 1987. Edgewater Station, serving the community since 1949, would undergo many modifications over the years and continue to serve. These substations would have better facilities, phone systems, establish computer links with a Headquarters' mainframe, and could easily be described as a far cry from the substations of the past.
The expanding needs of the Criminal Investigation Division were met with the use of facilities at the Winterode Complex in Crownsville. The Narcotics Section was expanded in an effort to increase pressure on narcotics trafficking. Facilities for the department's Chemistry Lab, also initially at Winterode, were staffed with a chief chemist and three assistants, greatly aiding in the work of narcotics investigations. New specially equipped mobile units were purchased for the Evidence Collection Section.
Team Police Units would make it possible to more closely target problem areas in communities at the district level. The "comfort" level of a community is very often tied to the amount of minor crime it sees, and the Team Police concept would eventually be credited with a great decrease of such crime in targeted communities.
It was during the 1980's that the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Program was introduced. This nationwide drug awareness program, directed at fifth graders, presents lectures in a structured school curriculum to thousands of children each year.
Modern communications were essential to making the most of substations and efficient use of personnel. A multi-channel high frequency radio system with inter-agency communications capability had been developed and would now be tied in with the county's first centralized police, fire, and ambulance 911 system. This facility would be located at Headquarters, and new Computer Aided Dispatching (CAD) capabilities would soon follow.
The CAD system was a large undertaking. It would allow faster and more accurate dispatching of calls, but only if the underlying database was accurate. This meant that precise information on all areas of the county had to be provided to the computer, and then checked and re-checked for accuracy.
Computerization would ensure that decentralized workers could obtain needed information. Prisoner booking time was reduced by computerization, and the introduction of user-friendly computer programs allowed officers to generate their own programs for such things as crime analysis and career criminal tracking.
In 1987, the department celebrated its first 50 years of service to the citizens of the county. As part of the celebration, specially created seals were placed on patrol cars and a commemorative badge and revolver, both for private purchase, were authorized. A yearbook, the first one authorized by the department, was organized and published. Then on June 6, 1987, a 50th Anniversary Ball was held at La Fontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie.
The rest of the decade can be characterized by the department's continued commitment to combining the best of traditional police practices with new innovations. Opportunities for greater communication between officers and citizens, computerization for better tracking of crime and criminals, and better response to concerns shared by government, police, and citizens would lead the department into the future.
The 1990's: The Modern Era
In 1990, to meet ever growing investigative demands, a new Crime Lab was constructed behind the Headquarters building in Millersville. Improvements in lab equipment and increases in personnel would continue through the decade.
Community Oriented Policing would be a cornerstone for the department's mission into this last decade of the 20th century. The community-based, problem-oriented philosophy of this type of policing would influence many departments to attempt to redefine their parameters to better serve in this area. The department would embrace this concept as an opportunity to build partnerships with the communities, to identify crime problems, and to seek creative problem solving solutions through a complex of government agencies and services. It would provide new concepts for the delivery of police services. Community Oriented Policing also encouraged the business community to take part by providing donations and services to citizens to provide alternatives to crime and criminal activity.
The department would face tight economic times in the first part of the decade, and would show resourcefulness and creativity in providing quality law enforcement to county citizens. Special initiatives would enable the productivity of the department to flourish, in spite of the downsizing of department personnel and increased demands for service. The creation of the Police Foundation, comprised of members of the business community, has supplied tremendous monetary and material support to needs that would otherwise have been neglected because of fiscal budgetary constraints.
As the 1990's unfolded, the department created the Police and Community Together Program (PACT). PACT's emphasis was on community oriented policing in under served areas targeted for their high crime rates, such as Freetown Village, Meade Village, Pioneer City, and Warfield Town Homes. PACT officers have been highly successful in reducing crime in these areas, sometimes by more than 50%. More importantly, these officers have been able to build mutual respect and trust between the police and the citizens of these communities. This spirit of trust has led to better cooperation to further reduce crime.
The Youth Activities Program (YAP) was developed to continue the partnership with communities. As part of its mission, YAP focuses on community youth to provide recreational and educational alternatives to crime. It also provides role models and mentors to these youth to help them build character and self-esteem. The "Take Back Our Streets" Program, founded by Senator Michael Wagner, is the private organization which is a chief proponent of YAP and has played a major part in helping to provide alternatives for criminal activity for the youth served by this program.
In a effort to slow the sale and distribution of illegal drugs at the street level, Tactical Narcotics Teams (TNT) were formed and placed in each of the four districts. These teams were very effective in working independently and in conjunction with the CID Narcotics Section, aggressively pursuing illegal drug activity in the county. Because these teams were located in the district stations, they were able to build a rapport with officers working the street and were better able to use information on drug activities supplied by the officers and local citizens. In 1992, the TNT initiative received a National Association of Counties Award.
Various traffic enforcement programs aimed at making the streets and highways safer for pedestrians, motorists, and school children were conducted each year. High incident holiday patrols and highway safety grant funding initiatives provided additional enforcement efforts which helped to remove drunk drivers and speeders from the roads.
The department's Central Records Section had also seen many changes over the years. This ultimate depository of virtually all written records for the department performs a vital and irreplaceable function, providing copies of reports and information for department personnel, insurance companies, businesses, and private citizens. The huge amount of criminal, non-criminal, and accident reports, traffic citations, photo negatives, and other paperwork generated each day are separated, read, and properly filed by a small group of dedicated people. Over 30 years of written reports have been stored by Central Records, some of it on microfilm. In 1993, a new computerized incident-based reporting and records management system known as Tiburon was initiated in Central Records. This system would effectively link police reports with other forms of police contact to better track crimes and persons who have had contact with the department. In 1996, the section's Crime Analysis Unit would join with other local agencies and the State Police to form a Regional Crime Analysis System. These systems would prove to be a highly beneficial tool for officers and criminal investigators.
In 1994, the department received national accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. Known by its acronym, CALEA's purpose is to bring uniform national standards to all operational and administrative aspects of law enforcement. The overall goal of accreditation is to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and professionalism of law enforcement services to communities nationwide. The process of accreditation is strenuous and exacting, and many details of even day-to-day operations needed to be altered to be brought into compliance with CALEA standards. The department's accreditation was hailed by many as a milestone of achievement, one of the most important in departmental history.
1994 saw the county population rise to 456,171 people. The department continued to grow to meet demands for service. A major expansion of the Property Management Unit was completed with the construction and opening of a new property storage facility.
The department renewed its commitment and dedication to duty and emphasized integrity and ethics. In order to gain input and valuable insight into preparing for the department's future, focus groups were formed composed of ranking members of the department to study important issues. There was a restructuring of the office of the Chief of Police, which led to a reorganization of the Management Planning Section and creation of the Administrative Services Division. This facilitated the Chief’s ability to improve communications within the chain of command.
The concept of site-based management and teamwork on the part of all managers and supervisors was developed so that new challenges would be met with greater confidence. Community-based "solution-oriented" policing placed greater emphasis on positive solutions to reduce, if not completely eradicate, chronic crime problems. Programs were developed to seek more advice and counsel from minority business, community, and religious leaders, for improved hiring of qualified minority police candidates.
Tactical Patrol Units (TPU) were formed and assigned to each district. The TPU concept would allow district commanders more flexibility and give quicker response to targeted criminal activity.
A Grants Coordinator position was created to more aggressively pursue federal funds. Because of this initiative, funding for new officers and several new programs would be received.
As far back as 1972, the department had been studying the feasibility of having its own Aviation Unit. With its large land area and vast shoreline, helicopter assistance for law enforcement duties was thought to offer many benefits. Unfortunately, it was deemed unworkable at that time. Then, in 1984, another study began which eventually launched the department's first airborne operations in 1987, using a rented helicopter flown from Lee Airport in Southern District. Then, in 1996, the department acquired six surplus Bell Jet Ranger helicopters from the Department of Defense to assist in launching its first, totally in-house, Aviation Unit, with Cpl. Larry Walker as head of the unit. These helicopters are capable of maintaining four hours of sustained flight time. By the end of the decade, the Aviation Unit would be flying 1,500 hours per year using two helicopters for normal duty status, each equipped with search lights, infrared, and video camera capability. They would be credited with aiding in over 200 criminal apprehensions, 1,000 officer assists, and more than 1,500 business checks. Eventually, the department would join in a regional Aviation Program.
It was also during this period that a new semi-enclosed firing range was built at the Davidsonville Police Academy, replacing the original range built in 1975.
In 1996, the department's authorized strength was 812 full-time police employees, comprised of 612 sworn officers and 200 civilians. There were 135 school crossing guards assigned to staff 168 school crossings.
For a number of years, the white uniform shirt worn by officers had been a concern, particularly for officers on midnight and 3-11 shifts. Some officers felt that the white shirt could make them a target at night in hostile situations. Midnight shift officers had for some time been issued navy blue uniforms and, in an effort to bring uniformity, the department's uniform, for the third time in its history, was changed. The new uniform shirt and pants were navy blue and worn with a similar navy blue tie. The dress blouse would also be altered to better match the new uniform.
In addition, in 1997 the Management Information Systems Unit introduced laptop computers in a trial program at Northern District as part of a computerized report writing program. Officers would use these computers to write reports in their vehicles after a call. This program would prove successful and would eventually be expanded to the other districts as funds became available.
2000: The Millennium & Visions for the Future
Today’s goals and objectives are simple, direct, and of great benefit to the Anne Arundel County communities. They include improved quality and effectiveness in responding to community concerns and problems, seeking innovative enforcement programs and improving upon the effectiveness of existing ones, and enhancing the department’s technology status with a cost-conscious and effective approach to upgrading and replacing critical equipment.
Above all, our police department will continue to be responsive to the community and ensure that Anne Arundel County remains a safe place to live, work, and enjoy life.