- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 13, 2002

As the sniper slayings have spread, so has the radius of law enforcement agencies preparing for the next strike.
Police chiefs in Maryland and Virginia communities as far as 40 miles from the nearest connected shooting have increased patrols, approved overtime in advance, canceled leaves and installed extra phone lines just in case.
Maryland's two largest cities, Baltimore and Frederick, sent their top police officials to a regional briefing Friday in Rockville by a multiagency task force investigating the sniper attacks that have killed eight and wounded two in the Washington area since Oct. 2.
"Obviously, you don't want the responsible person or offender to slip through the cracks. By having a coordinated effort, you try to maximize the effort you're putting out there," Frederick County Sheriff James Hagy said.
Participants wouldn't discuss specific strategies. Prince William County Police Chief Charlie Deane said his department had contact with the sniper task force and ran "what-if" scenarios for days before a sniper killed a man Wednesday at a gas station in Manassas, in his jurisdiction.
After another fatal shooting at a gas station near Fredericksburg on Friday, the culprit eluded pursuers again, but coordination played a key role in the rapid, swarming police response that halted midday traffic on area expressways while investigators searched white vans and trucks like those seen leaving at least two of crime scenes.
There have been no shootings in Charles County, about 25 miles south of the District, but it is just south of the Prince Georges County, where the sniper wounded a 13-year-old boy on his way to school. That was enough for sheriff's officials to preapprove overtime and set up a tip line that can be made active if needed.
Anne Arundel County, about 20 miles east of the District, has made similar arrangements. Administrative duties have been reshuffled to maximize the time patrol officers spend on the street.
Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose, who leads the sniper task force because five of the deaths were in his county, said the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments helped facilitate the planning by arranging conference calls among its 18 member jurisdictions.
The council drafted a blueprint for coordinated emergency planning after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In addition to meeting regularly to share intelligence and strategies, the member police chiefs are linked by an electronic system that alerts them simultaneously by pager, telephone and e-mail to incidents of regional interest.
The response to the shootings has spread beyond the council region, though. Baltimore isn't a member, and neither are Anne Arundel and Charles counties.


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