There has been a decent amount of comments on social media (that I have seen) about the Howard County Police Department Executive Protection Unit (EPU) utilized by County Executive Calvin Ball. I wanted to know more about the EPU so I reached out to my contacts within Howard County Government to get some real information for my readers. Here is what I know:
The following questions and answers were provided to the Howard County Council Auditor about the EPU:
- Which staff members/officers are assigned this detail? Since 2/7/19 we have had 1 full-time and 2 part-time (back-up) officers assigned as Executive Protection.
- How many Regular hours dedicated? The full-time officer works a 40 hour work week. The part-time officers work as needed when the full-time officer is not available.
- How many Overtime hours dedicated and Cost? As of this pay period ending March 3rd, $3,214 has been paid in overtime.
- What functions were those individuals doing prior to December? The full-time officer was previously assigned as our Senior Liaison. The part-time officers have remained in their assignments.
We also want info regarding history of threats.
- Any threats against Council Members during past 12 years? If so, how many per year? Currently not tracking this information.
- Any threats against County Executive in past 12 years? If so, how many per year? Currently not tracking this information.
Each county executive is offered executive protection upon entering office, due to the high-profile nature of the position and the ever-increasing potential for risk.
Providing a highly-trained sworn police officer helps ensure the safety of the County Executive as he goes about traveling, conducting business and attending public events throughout the county. Executive protection officers help to manage day-to-day operational security and serve as liaisons to other agencies.
Executive protection is a common practice in surrounding counties. Police agencies that provide executive protection to their elected officials include: Baltimore Co., Baltimore City, Anne Arundel Co., Prince George’s Co., Montgomery Co. and the State of Maryland.
For security reasons, it is not common practice to talk publicly about threats or potential threats against the county executive. This helps to prevent copycat incidents and other compromising acts.
The police department has continued to offer protective services to each county executive as a best practice to address potential safety issues.
Decisions made by the County Executive are sometimes unpopular with certain individuals and groups and this can lead to heightened emotions and increased risk.
Now there are still a few outstanding questions I have about the Executive Protection Unit:
- What is the annual cost of standing up and running this unit? I have seen a lot of speculative numbers thrown around on social media. It would be nice to have an accurate number to share with my readers. I do not have that at this time.
- Is the unit only for the County Executive or does the protection also extend to family members traveling to events? I understand why I might not get an answer to this question as it gets into some of the specifics that the Howard County Police Department does not want to share in regards to specifics of the EPU.
- As I understand it, the previous County Executive (Allan Kittleman) did not utilize the EPU while in office, I would like to know why he made that decision. To be fair, I have not reached out to him about this yet to confirm that it is true or ask why he did not utilize these services…maybe something to do in the future if I get time.
I am sure there will be ongoing comments on social media…especially during the budget discussions happening in Howard County right now. My goal was to provide some facts for you as those comments get made online.
If I get more information in the future…I will either update this article or create a new article for reference.