The decision to reduce the number of Maryland State Police troopers assigned to the Allegany County Combined Criminal Investigation Unit, commonly known as C3I, is a disservice to the citizens of Allegany County and surrounding areas.

The effect of the decision is real: It will reduce the number of cases C3I can investigate, and those cases will return to the state police barrack, the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office and the Cumberland and Frostburg police departments.

As anyone with knowledge of the value and contributions of this unique investigations unit can attest, C3I has earned and enjoyed a long record of solving major crimes since its inception in 1992 as a brainchild of retired MSP Lt. Col. Thomas Carr and with the full support and backing of the late legal-mind and longtime Allegany County State’s Attorney Lawrence V. Kelly.

“We look forward to the success of this project and you can look forward to full cooperation of state police,” said Carr to the Times-News in July of that year.

C3I began operating with 10 investigators — state police, Cumberland Police and one detective from the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office — and polygraph and state police evidence collection personnel. The FBI had an office here at that time and contributed greatly to the resources of C3I, which has been housed at the city’s Public Safety Building since it began, courtesy of the city of Cumberland and its police department.

In 1992, Sheriff Gary Simpson chaired the first C3I advisory board meeting. The board consisted of heads of the participating law enforcement agencies.

“Hopefully this unit will preserve our way of life here which is our greatest asset. We have one of the best places to work and live and raise children and that is our greatest asset,” said Simpson.

Without regard for the consequences of such a detrimental force reduction, elected leaders watched this action unfold, as it was well-known in the political community and by law enforcement for the past few years.

Numerous efforts  reportedly were made to alter the decision and let the C3I do its job without tampering with its workforce level.

The decision to take two troopers from C3I will put two more uniformed troopers on the road in the state of Maryland. What it will not do is help to protect the Allegany County community that relies on its combined criminal investigation unit to take the lead in fighting and solving crimes.

The state police make a priority of recruiting, training and equipping more troopers. They’re needed to patrol the road, but they’re equally needed to investigate and solve crimes.

Taking troopers out of C3I is an uninformed and uneducated decision. Past and present law enforcement officials of Allegany and Garrett counties know it but their hands are tied to do anything about it.

Now is the time for officials, including Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland State Police Superintendent William Pallozzi, to use their authority to restore the MSP manpower level to the C3I unit that it has now reduced.

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