- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

ANNAPOLIS (AP) Maryland State Police Superintendent Edward Norris is planning a major overhaul of the agency, bringing new commanders to more than half of the police barracks and creating a homeland-defense unit.
Since he was named Maryland's top police officer by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Col. Norris has pushed for state police to take the lead in homeland defense. As part of that goal, he says he wants to reassign troopers to patrol duties.
Much of the reorganization is scheduled to take effect March 19. It will move more than 30 troopers to barracks around the state and another 40 officers and supervisors to the new homeland-defense bureau, state police officials said.
"I think people in Maryland will see a greater state police presence on the roadways," Col. Norris said Monday. "There are some things they won't see, like our homeland security missions." But those missions are critically important, he said.
State police have set up a 24-hour hot line to receive tips on crimes and terrorism 800/492-TIPS assigned troopers to terrorism task forces and agencies, and begun sending daily intelligence updates to all 23 barracks, said Lt. Col. Stephen Moyer, who will head the homeland security bureau.
Before authorities had determined that an explosion at an oil-storage depot in Staten Island, N.Y., last month was an accident, troopers were dispatched to check oil facilities in Maryland. "This is a priority," Col. Moyer said.
Cost projections for the homeland security bureau aren't complete. State police spokesman Maj. Greg Shipley said the cost should be minimal because existing resources will be used.
Police officials say the reassignment of troopers will help fill a void created when state budget cuts forced state police to cancel their recruiting class this year.
It won't be until this time next year at the earliest that state police can begin hiring more troopers, said Lt. Col. David Czorapinski, who heads the consolidated operations bureau. "Our focus is to try to redirect our personnel back to direct crime fighting."
The last major overhaul of the state police was in 1995 when Col. David Mitchell took over as superintendent and combined the drug-enforcement and criminal investigations bureaus.
Under Col. Norris' plan, five regional operations bureaus will be consolidated into two. Some of the captains and majors who headed those bureaus will serve as barrack commanders, displacing lieutenants and sergeants, said Lt. Nick Paros, president of the union that represents 1,700 officers and commanders. Lt. Paros will take over as commander of the JFK Highway barrack.
"It had some people on edge," said Lt. Paros. "A police agency isn't a democracy. Anyone over the rank of captain serves at the pleasure of the superintendent. But these are just reassignments. No one has been demoted or fired."

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