Frostburg State University President Jonathan Gibralter and City of Frostburg Mayor Robert Flanigan announced a historic agreement at the Feb. 16 Frostburg Mayor and Council meeting. The two-pronged approach is designed to improve public safety through shared jurisdiction in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the campus and through funding from FSU that will allow the City of Frostburg to boost its police staffing and salaries, as well as support other City safety measures.
Mayor Flanigan and President Gibralter, along with staff members, began meeting following the death of an FSU student in early November 2011. Their work targeted the twin challenges of the limited number of City police officers available for patrol work and the City’s budget limitations in funding adequate numbers of police officers. The two-pronged approach offered by FSU is designed to ease those challenges.
First, the FSU Police Department, with its force of 17 fully trained and Maryland-certified officers, will have joint jurisdiction in a defined area in the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the campus. By adding the FSU police officers during their regular shifts, the City will have a dramatically increased capacity to respond to calls and enforce laws and codes. Frostburg police will still have responsibility for the most serious cases, but will be able to call on the FSU police for assistance in investigating these crimes.
Since July 2001, the City and FSU police departments had a mutual aid agreement that allowed each department to call on the other for assistance without delay, a program that has greatly enhanced the cooperation between the two law enforcement agencies. This expands that collaboration to allow FSU police to patrol those designated neighborhoods without first being requested by the City police.
For the second piece of the new approach, FSU will provide $200,000 each fiscal year for the City to invest in a variety of safety enhancing measures. Among the most significant are to hire and train two new officers to bring the City’s force to 17 Maryland-certified officers. The City will also be able to enhance the salaries of its current officers, reducing the dramatic disparity between pay for Frostburg’s officers and those of other agencies, most notably the FSU Police Department, a situation that had resulted in a near-constant drain of officers – those the City had paid to train – to other agencies.
The City will also be able to use those funds to assist other agencies that share responsibility for the safety of the people in and around the University. Technology investments in the Allegany County Sheriff’s Department will increase that agency’s capacity to support other agencies, in particular in collecting intelligence on illegal activities related to drug and alcohol abuse. The funds will also provide additional support to the Frostburg Volunteer Fire Department beyond the University’s annual contribution, to the Frostburg Area Ambulance Service and to the Shaft Volunteer Fire Department, which is the second company automatically dispatched to calls on campus.
Since FSU’s fiscal year begins July 1, FSU will implement a half-year of funding to cover the current fiscal year.
Dr. William E. Kirwan, chancellor for the University System of Maryland, of which FSU is a part, praised the agreement. “Frostburg State University is the anchor university behind the University System of Maryland’s investment in the students and citizens of Western Maryland. I am pleased to see the continued spirit of partnership between FSU and leaders in the City of Frostburg in working to ensure the safety of the Frostburg State community and the area’s year-round residents.”
This unique two-track approach has been developed as a result of the close and personal involvement of both Gibralter and Flanigan. They emphasized their close working relationship and willingness to consider new ideas and alternatives for this historic agreement.
“As a former City police officer and commissioner of Public Safety, I can honestly say that as we worked on this agreement, I experienced a real and equal partnership between our City and our University,” Flanigan said. “This agreement is the result of us seeking new solutions with Dr. Gibralter, our chiefs of police, our sheriff, Craig Robertson, and our talented staff and legal counsels.”
Gibralter agreed. “First and foremost, our motivation is the safety of all the residents of this community, both those who live in the neighborhood year round and those who call the community home when the University is in session,” Gibralter said. “While no measures can prevent every tragedy, this increased collaboration should only serve to enhance our common goals.”
Sheriff Robertson has also been a party to the discussions leading to the cooperative agreement, with support being provided by Steve Spahr, FSU vice president for Government Relations and Economic Development and chief of staff; University Counsel Karen Treber; City Attorney Michael S. Cohen; Frostburg Police Chief Royce Douty and FSU Police Chief Cynthia Smith.
Community members wishing information about the agreement should contact Frostburg City Administrator John Kirby at 301-689-6000, ext. 25, or firstname.lastname@example.org or Stephen Spahr at 301-687-4111 or email@example.com.