Maryland Should Have One State Police Agency

Can you name, off the top of your head, all of the individual state police agencies in the state of Maryland? I’m not talking about just the Maryland State Police, but all of the different and separate agencies.

There are more than you think;

  1. Maryland Capitol Police
  2. Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Police
  3. Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation Police
  4. Maryland Natural Resources Police
  5. Maryland Park Service Rangers
  6. Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration Police
  7. Maryland Office of the Comptroller Police
  8. Maryland State Police
  9. Maryland Transit Administration Police
  10. Maryland Transportation Authority Police
  11. Anne Arundel Community College Police
  12. Baltimore City Community College Police
  13. Coppin State University Police
  14. Frostburg State University Police
  15. Morgan State University Police
  16. Salisbury University Police
  17. Towson University Police
  18. University of Baltimore Police
  19. University of Maryland, Baltimore Police
  20. University of Maryland, Baltimore County Police
  21. University of Maryland, College Park Police

Having nearly two dozen police agencies all under the auspices of the State of Maryland is excessive and unnecessary. That’s nearly two dozen chiefs, nearly two dozen command structures, nearly two dozen personnel systems, and so on. When all twenty-two of these agencies are all, ultimately, in the executive branch of state government, having so many different agencies is necessary and redundant.

The most efficient thing that could be done for taxpayers and law enforcement alike is to unite all of these agencies in the Department of State Police, led by the Superintendent of State Police.

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You may be thinking that these police departments all have differentiating missions. Yes, some do. But the Maryland State Police is already equipped to handle multiple different missions; MSP is already divided into five different bureaus and includes such varied missions as airborne operations and Executive Protection. Folding the other agencies into MSP would not create an undue operational burden for the missions of these forces and would allow these agencies to continue to fulfill their mission requirements.

  • So what benefits would there be to merging these agencies?
    Unified Command: there would be one top cop for all state police agencies;
    Bureaucratic Reduction: Instead of having bureaucratic redundancies across all departments, one agency would reduce those burdens and allow for more resources be focused to the mission
  • Flexibility: Officers would have greater career opportunities from being part of one, large police force, and officers could be shifted among the bureaus of the MSP to meet operational needs without having to worry about any interagency concerns.
  • Cost-Savings: A unified department would create millions in savings over time due to the reduced overhead and the elimination (through attrition) of unnecessary bureaucracies.

There are many ways that government can be streamlined. So why focus on police? Public safety is one of the most important functions of government. Any time that we can streamline public safety command and create greater interoperability improves the safety of all civilians. But our police departments are also one of the most visible outward displays of state employees, and often multiple police departments create confusion.

What really is the benefit to taxpayers if Maryland Transportation Authority police have jurisdiction over parts of I-95, but the Maryland State Police has jurisdiction over another part? Why does the Maryland State Police have a legislative protection division that is responsible for ensuring the safety of members of the Maryland General Assembly while in session, but that mission is duplicated by the Maryland Capitol Police? These are questions that have no obvious answers.

We can streamline police departments in a way that respects the mission of the existing departments and respects the great work being done by our officers all across Maryland. What better way to show that we are serious about reforming state government by beginning the process of consolidating these police agencies.

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