Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 8, 2011

Dogs sniffing for cell phones inside state prisons

CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners learned about cell phone sniffing dogs and their part in the state’s largest agency from Gary Maynard, the secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Maynard made a presentation to commissioners at their Thursday work session. He also discussed his agency’s role in the state and in Allegany County.

The department has a $1.2 billion operating budget and supervises 22,000 inmates in 22 prisons and 70,000 individuals on probation and parole, among other duties. The department also plays a part in processing arrestees at some facilities, Maynard said.

The secretary said he’s made a concerted effort to protect employees since taking over in 2007.

“I’m the one who put (protecting) employees in our mission statement. If we take care of our employees, they’ll take care of protecting citizens,” he said.

The department has an impact in Allegany County, Maynard said, and he offered even more resources if the county needs inmate labor. Inmates have worked with Habitat for Humanity of Allegany County building homes while learning carpentry and drywall skills. The inmates have also planted 43,000 trees in the county and nearly a million across the state in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“We’ll clean up the ugliest place in your county,” Maynard said to commissioners. The department though, Maynard said, is mindful of jobs held by average citizens.

 “We don’t want to put anybody out of work,” Maynard said. “If someone says to us, ‘you’re taking my job,’ we’re out of there.”

Maynard said he’s willing to look at any idea for the use of inmate labor that commissioners can come up with. There are some limitations, for instance, inmates cannot normally work on private property, except “in the public interest,” which usually means emergency situations, such as floods.

Other inmate work projects in the area have included maintenence of the Allegany Highland trails, Westernport brush clearing and painting, a Department of Natural Resources roofing project at New Germany State Park and a Dan’s Rock cleanup, Maynard said.

The department employs 1,060 people in area prisons with salaries, wages and benefits of $69 million, and employs another 15 people at the Division of Probation and Parole office.

Cell phones have become a big safety issue in prisons, Maynard said. Cell phones smuggled into prisons can be used to coordinate illegal activities on the outside and attacks on corrections staff and other inmates. The cell phones can be found hidden anywhere, including the bodily orifices of inmates, he said. The department is utilizing the latest technology, including cell phone sniffing dogs, to get cell phones away from inmates. The dogs also offer a bit of a psychological factor, Maynard said.

“When they walk down the hallway, the cell phones fly,” Maynard said.

The state has two large prisons in Allegany County, the North Branch Correctional Institution and neighboring Western Correctional Institution. In late March, there were 1,700 inmates at WCI and 1,449 at NBCI.

Maynard’s office called and initiated plans for the visit, said Bretta Reinhard, Allegany County’s public information officer.

In other action, commissioners named April Alcohol Awareness month and Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention month. Commissioners also an-nounced that citizens can sign up for the county’s new quarterly newsletter by visiting the county’s website.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at


Text Only
Local News
  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Game on: City interested in baseball study

    After it looked like the objection of a couple of constituents to a study on the feasibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area may have torpedoed the thought, county commissioners and some city officials sounded ready to sing a chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday.

    April 18, 2014

  • DEREK SHEELY Charges against helmet maker stand in case of Frostburg player’s death

    A Montgomery County judge this week declined to dismiss charges against a helmet manufacturer in a case brought by the parents of a Frostburg State University football player who died of head injuries in August 2011 following four straight days of heavy contact drills in practice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GAYLE MANCHIN W.Va. BOE president speaks on issues at WVSDB

    West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin responded to issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind during an interview with the Times-News Wednesday morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • REGINALD REDMAN Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count

    A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blossoming optimism Blossoming optimism

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
News related video
Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners