By Bob Weaver|
State Police memos released through a Freedom of Information request by The Hur
Herald, reveals information regarding the agencies decision to discontinue after
hours coverage in Calhoun County. That policy was later rescinded.
Sgt. David Garrett of Spencer, the Grantsville detachment supervisor, states in an
inter-office memo on May 17, "Sgt. Bonazzo advised me that the Calhoun Sheriff's
Department and the Grantsville Police Department were no longer taking 911 calls
Responding to the memo, Sheriff Allen Parsons said "I never made that statement. Our
department has always answered all our calls." It is "totally inaccurate and
The Calhoun County Sheriff's Department has a long history of responding to local
after hours calls. "Scanner listeners will attest to that," said one official. "Why such a
statement would be made is baffling to me," said Sheriff Parsons. "We've tried hard to
cooperate with the State Police."
Grantsville Chief of Police Charles McCroskey, said the statement was "false and it
never came from us." He said there has never been a night in Grantsville that
someone was not on call. "Lately, I've been working seven nights a week."
First Sgt. David Garrett did not discuss coverage problems with Sheriff Parsons or
Chief McCroskey. Officials said the State Police did not notify Calhoun Control/911 of
recent unit number changes for police cruisers in the county, nor are they providing
The State Police sent an internal memo to Calhoun Control/911 on May 10, detailing
the decision to discontinue coverage. The Hur Herald printed the memo contending
police coverage was public information and of concern to Calhoun citizens. Sgt.
Garrett reportedly said the memo was meant for Calhoun Control/911 only.
A second memo was issued on May 18, rescinding the first directive. It states the
State Police "Will take any and all calls" although the agency declined to make the
information public. The Hur Herald inquired about the policy change with numerous
phone calls and faxes going unanswered, prior to the FOIA request.
"If the problem was lack of coverage by local law enforcement, the cutting of State
Police service didn't make much sense," said a local officer. He couldn't offer any
explanation for the statements. "They did lose one of their officers, and are down to
three," he said. While the memos seemed to blame Sgt. Bonazzo for the problems, the
official said it was likely supervisor Garrett was aware of the situation.
New State Police Superintendent Howard Hill said he is vitally concerned about
"attitude" problems in the ranks and feels more emphasis should be placed on service
to the community, in addition to the mission "to protect." The department has been
plagued with dozens of suits related to unprofessional conduct by some troopers.
Hill says the department has suffered from having its insurance premium go to
one and one half million dollars. He said insurance costs help drain the budget and keeps
some units from having essential supplies.