Howard Co. budget proposal boosts funding for police, fire services

The Howard County Police Department could be on the verge of its largest budget hike in over a decade.

If approved, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball’s budget proposal for fiscal 2023 would give the police an $11 million boost as part of a larger investment in the county’s public safety system. Firefighting services, the county sheriff’s office and emergency medical personnel would also benefit from budget increases.

“Howard County is recognized as one of the safest communities in our nation, and we always will work to make sure our residents feel safe and are safe,” Ball said at a news conference Tuesday. “Improving police and fire staffing levels benefits our community, and also improves the working conditions of our valued first responders, who rush toward danger when others are escaping it.”

The investment includes $3.7 million for 24 additional HCPD patrol positions, making for “the largest increase in sworn personnel in 15 years,” according to a news release detailing the budget proposal. Ball said the new posts would better position law enforcement to address emerging crime, such as human trafficking, and improve response time.

The budget also provides $1.2 million to outfit all county police and sheriff’s deputies with body-worn cameras, and puts $200,000 toward the creation of an independent accountability board to review and investigate allegations of law enforcement misconduct.

Ball’s proposal also includes millions for the hiring of up to 36 new firefighters and emergency medical personnel, as well as the acquisition of firefighting equipment and provisions for renovation work. Around $3.8 million would be invested in renovating the Howard County Detention Center and designing its new mental health unit.

WTOP’s Carrie Shokraei contributed to this report.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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