March 22, 2024

Maryland Town Suspends Entire Work Force, Leaving Community at Risk

The leaders of Ridgely, Maryland, abruptly chose to suspend the town's police force on March 13 without providing a clear explanation.

Three town commissioners announced that the entire local police force was "suspended with pay" immediately, citing a "pending investigation by the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor."

They also stated their intent to develop a temporary agreement with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Department to ensure continuous public safety services for Ridgely residents, according to a press release.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that many of the town's roughly 1,600 residents expressed frustration over the lack of transparency in the decision.

Laura Cline told the outlet, "What’s very concerning is that they didn’t communicate with us in an honest and open way. Treat us with respect. We’re adults — thinking, rational adults who deserve the truth."

Holly Justice, a spa owner, added, "We were blindsided... It makes you question the integrity of people who are supposed to protect and serve."

Justice also noted that the sudden announcement without adequate explanation felt like a betrayal, as the officers were considered members of the community.

In a subsequent announcement on Wednesday, the three commissioners stated that the county's sheriff department would continue to provide law enforcement services to the town "on an interim basis pending a decision by the Commissioners regarding the long-term provision of public safety services for the Town."

"Given the recent events involving the Ridgely Police Department, the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with the Caroline County Commissioners and the Commissioners of the Town of Ridgely, are committed to providing continuous police services to the town’s citizens, ensuring their safety remains a top priority," said Caroline County Sheriff Donald Baker Jr. in a statement to WBOC.

"Together with the Maryland State Police, the Sheriff’s Office will guarantee seamless and uninterrupted police coverage within the town limits of Ridgely," she added.

The odd situation leaves many questions as the residents of the small town seek to find answers to provide public safety.

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