Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Cartoon

Cumberland Times-News

Two weeks ago in this space, we said moving Allegany County road patrols from the sheriff's department to the newly-formed county police force looks like an idea whose time has come. But events since then - particularly the way the county commissioners handled Thursday's public meeting -have given us more than a little pause.

It is inconceivable - nay, flabbergasting - that the commissioners and their staff could not give the public any idea of how much the new police department will cost taxpayers.

Repeatedly, the commissioners were asked questions Thursday about the cost. There wasn't one answer to be had.

To be sure, Sheriff David Goad has made plenty of mistakes. For one, he was almost too cavalier in dealing with the commissioners - particularly at budget time. We'll give the sheriff the benefit of the doubt that he could not get out of homeland security training to attend a crucial budget meeting. But he certainly could have asked for a postponement of the county meeting. He did not.

And, in our view, he could have avoided further confrontation with the commissioners had he gone along with the county's new take-home vehicle policy.

It is apparent to us that Allegany County residents overwhelmingly support keeping the road patrol under the sheriff. Eighty-six percent of the more than 2,300 responses in our Web question about this supported the sheriff. And our letters to the editor are running 90 percent in favor of Goad. All the while, the commissioners say the "Silent Majority" is supporting them. We have seen no evidence of this.

Now that a show-cause order has been filed by the county against the sheriff, it is evident that it will be until at least Aug. 20 before the new road patrol will be up and running. Clearly, the county has not done its homework to get this new patrol on the road.

At this juncture, the county and its citizens would be best served by keeping the deputies under Sheriff Goad until at least June of 2009, when the deputies' contract expires. Then, a referendum should be held to let county voters make the ultimate decision on who is responsible for the road patrol.

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