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History of Maryland Law Enforcement

July 24, 2011

Author’s Note:

I bring this interesting information straight from the Maryland State Police website. Bet you didn’t know this stuff, either…

I am particularly drawn to the Sworn Oath. I know one State Trooper, in particular, who did not uphold the laws of Maryland — under no uncertain terms. If you’ve read my other articles, you know that I am crying, “Public Corruption.” [It won’t be long before my story officially explodes as the media reveals a Frederick Maryland scandal involving the sheriff and a State Trooper “ATF liason.” Stay tuned and keep an eye out for the news.]

Nevertheless, I have tremendous respect for all (other) State Troopers and thank all (non-corrupted) police officers and our military troops serving in the States and worldwide. Many of my family members boast a history of military service, and the majority of my friends have either served in the military or are police officers of some variety. My husband is a former Air Force Special Police Officer. I am proud as hell of my friends and family; I am disappointed that I have been made bitter by crooked cops and one sheriff in particular who refuse to uphold the very laws they are elected — and paid — to enforce.

*  *  *

Colonial Maryland. Under English common law, every person had an active responsibility for keeping the peace. This was a vital principle in colonial Maryland, a fledgling society with no police or peace officers. The responsibility included crime prevention through vigilance and the apprehension of suspected lawbreakers by groups of persons raising the “hue and cry” or the more official “posse comitatus.” Persons whose previous behavior indicated that they were at risk of breaking the peace could be taken before a local court or magistrate and bound over to keep the peace, thereby, in theory, preventing crime. Adapted from the British legal system were the positions of sheriff and constable, officers of the county court who also enforced the law. Sheriffs and constables had no jurisdiction outside their own county. As population increased, county and municipal police departments were created to meet local needs.

Baltimore City Police Force. The first State agency to exercise police powers was the Baltimore City Police Force. Established in 1867 under a Board of Police Commissioners, the Force was elected by the General Assembly (Chapter 367, Acts of 1867). Baltimore had been developing a police force since the formation in 1784 of a night watch “very necessary to prevent fires, burglaries, and other outrages and disorders” (Chapter 69, Acts of 1784). Its police force, from 1867, was governed by a State board although jurisdiction was limited to the City. From 1900 to 1920, the Board of Police Commissioners was appointed by the Governor. After 1920, a single Police Commissioner of Baltimore City was chosen and also served on the Governor’s Advisory Council. The Baltimore City Police Department remained under State governance until 1978, when the Mayor began to appoint the Police Commissioner, subject to confirmation by the City Council (Chapter 920, Acts of 1976).

State Detective Force. In 1909, the Board of Police Commissioners of Baltimore City urged the creation of a State detective force since the Governor, the Fire Marshal, and State’s Attorneys in the counties frequently sought help from Baltimore City’s expert investigators. The first tentative step towards a statewide police force, however, was taken in 1914 as a corps of motorcycle officers under the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles began to enforce motor vehicle laws throughout Maryland (Chapter 564, Acts of 1914).

State Police Force. When a crime wave struck Maryland after World War I, the need for statewide enforcement of criminal law became critical. The Governor, the Police Commissioner of Baltimore City, and the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles came up with a plan for a State Police Force under the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. Former servicemen were recruited and the first training camp was conducted early in 1921. By 1922, the force of motorcycle deputies had statewide jurisdiction over criminal cases through deputization by the county sheriffs. The force was supported by a plainclothes investigative department and was known as the State Police Force.

Maryland State Police. In 1935, the Maryland State Police was established as a separate unit of State government (Chapter 303, Acts of 1935). The new agency was funded out of revenues from the Department of Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. It was granted additional statewide police powers to enforce fish, oyster, game and other conservation laws and maintain a training school. The Maryland State Police were made part of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in 1970.

Maryland Department of State Police. In 1994, the Department of Maryland State Police was formed as a principal executive department (Chapter 165, Acts of 1994). It was renamed the Department of State Police in 1995 (Chapter 3, Acts of 1995).
The Department of State Police enforces State motor vehicle and criminal laws and safeguards the lives and safety of all persons within the State. The Department protects property and assists all persons to secure the equal protection of law. The Department also preserves the public peace; detects and prevents crime; and enforces the laws and ordinances of the State and its local subdivisions. It apprehends and arrests criminals and lawbreakers, and preserves order in public places. In addition, the Department maintains the safe, orderly flow of traffic on public streets and highways and cooperates with and assists other law enforcement agencies.
The Department of State Police has statewide jurisdiction except in incorporated municipalities. Within municipalities the Department may exercise jurisdiction under certain conditions, as regulated by statute (Code 1957, Art. 88B, secs. 3, 4, 20, and 23). The Department also enforces the laws relating to controlled dangerous substances (narcotics) throughout the State with no jurisdictional limitations (Code 1957, Art. 27, sec. 298(g)).

State Fire Marshal. The State Fire Marshal and the State Fire Prevention Commission were transferred in 1997 from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to the Department of State Police (Chapter 352, Acts of 1997). The office of State Fire Marshal was first created in 1894 to investigate suspicious fires throughout the State and prosecute guilty parties (Chapter 248, Acts of 1894). The office was funded by insurance revenues, and insurance companies were required to report all claims for fire losses to the Fire Marshal. The mere existence of the office was thought to deter arson. By 1915, the Fire Marshal was investigating annually over one thousand fires statewide and inspecting fire exits and escapes in public buildings. In 1916, the position of State Fire Marshal was abolished and its powers and duties transferred to the State Insurance Commissioner who was authorized to appoint an additional deputy to handle fire duties (Chapter 521, Acts of 1916). In 1964, the office of State Fire Marshal was recreated, along with the State Fire Prevention Commission, a new State Fire Prevention Code, and revision of laws pertaining to fires and investigations, fireworks, and explosives (Chapter 46, Acts of 1964)


The Mission of the Maryland State Police is to protect the citizens of the State of Maryland from foreign and domestic security threats, to fight crime, and to promote roadway safety by upholding the laws of the State of Maryland. This will be accomplished through aggressive patrol, investigation, intelligence gathering and interdiction efforts; and by providing leadership and assistance to state and local agencies.


We will be the model of a responsive, coordinated, composite statewide police department; independent yet supportive of allied law enforcement agencies. We are committed to the utmost professionalism in delivering all-encompassing police services focused on traffic safety, homeland security, crime reduction and criminal apprehension. We continually strive to develop the skills of our members and to efficiently and effectively manage our resources as we carry out our public responsibilities.

Sworn Oath

I, [name of law enforcement officer], do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance
to the United States of America and to the State of Maryland;
that I will serve honestly and faithfully to uphold and defend
the Constitution of the United States of America and to the State of Maryland;
that I will enforce the laws of the State of Maryland;
and that I will obey the orders of the Governor and the Officers appointed over me
according to the rules and regulations of the Maryland State Police.

The Maryland State Police is a paramilitary organization with a rank structure modeled after the United States military. Below you will see the insignia that correspond with each sworn (non-civilian) rank, as well as a brief description of the common duties and responsibilities associated with each rank.

The Superintendent of the Maryland State Police holds the rank of Colonel. Within State government, the Superintendent is the Secretary of the Department of State Police and a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. The Superintendent is responsible for all facets of the Maryland State Police and he is the ultimate authority within the Agency. The Superintendent is appointed by the Governor and must be confirmed by the Maryland Senate.

Three members of the Maryland State Police hold the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Each Lieutenant Colonel oversees one of the three bureaus within the State Police and is responsible for all aspects of that bureau’s operation. Lieutenant Colonels are appointed by the Superintendent.

Majors in the State Police are responsible for supervising a command within the State Police (such as the Logistics Command of the Support Services Bureau or one of the three commands within the Field Operations Bureau). Majors are appointed by the Superintendent.

The specific responsibilities of a Captain vary depending upon where they are assigned within the Agency. For example, a Captain may be a Troop Commander in the Field Operations Bureau or a Division Commander in one of the other Bureaus. To achieve the rank of Captain, one must complete the promotional process and score high enough to be selected for promotion.

Similar to a Captain, Lieutenants have responsibilities that vary depending upon their particular assignment. A Lieutenant is the Commander of each barrack. Other Lieutenants may command a Unit (such as the Recruitment & Selection Unit). Those holding the rank of Lieutenant or above are considered “Commissioned Officers”. To achieve the rank of Lieutenant, one must complete the promotional process and score high enough to be selected for promotion.

After more than 30 years, the position of Sergeant Major returned to the Maryland State Police in 2005. The Sergeant Major is responsible for ensuring a clear channel of communication from the Troopers on the road to the Secretary of the Department. There is only one Sergeant Major in the Department of State Police who is designated by the Superintendent.

First Sergeants are assistant barrack commanders at each of the twenty three barracks or may perform administrative functions in other areas of the Agency. Most notably, the designated “Academy First Sergeant” is responsible for the day-to-day supervision of all Trooper Candidates during their time in the State Police Academy. To achieve the rank of First Sergeant, one must complete the promotional process and score high enough to be selected for promotion.

Detective Sergeants are generally in charge of all criminal investigations at a barrack or they may be assigned to other investigative functions within the Agency. Detective Sergeants typically have a number of investigators for whom they are responsible. Although there is an insignia to designate a Detective Sergeant, it is most often a plain clothes assignment. To achieve the rank of Detective Sergeant, one must complete the promotional process and score high enough to be selected for promotion.

Most people encounter a Sergeant when they visit a barrack. Every Barrack has a duty officer, usually a Sergeant, who is responsible for overseeing the entire shift as they perform their duties. In addition to supervising the entire shift, they answer questions from citizens and assist the barrack administrators as necessary. To achieve the rank of Sergeant, one must complete the promotional process and score high enough to be selected for promotion.

Corporals are the first-line supervisors in the Maryland State Police. They are usually assigned as road supervisors within barracks. In the absence of a Sergeant, they will often act as the duty officer. Corporals at barracks remain active responding to calls for service and taking enforcement action as necessary. Corporal is the first rank that requires a testing process for promotion. To achieve the rank of Corporal, one must complete the promotional process and score high enough to be selected for promotion.

Those who hold the rank of Trooper First Class (TFC) have duties and responsibilities that are generally the same as a Trooper. Within the Maryland State Police, all Troopers who complete three years of satisfatory or exceptional service receive a promotion to the rank of TFC.

TROOPER Troopers generally have the greatest amount of contact with the public of any rank. When a citizen calls for assistance, it is usually a Trooper who initially responds to assist them. Troopers are on the front lines handling accidents, burglaries, domestic disturbances and other calls for service. They also have the primary responsibility for enforcing traffic and criminal laws while on patrol. There is no insignia to signify a Trooper. Since they have no insignia sewn on their shirts, they are known as “Slick Sleeves” among their fellow Troopers.


Forty-one Maryland State Troopers have given their lives in the line of duty while serving the citizens of Maryland. Click on a name below to read the full story of the Fallen Hero. They are listed in order of the date they were killed.
John W Jeffrey Officer September 21, 1921
William C Lochner Officer April 20, 1923
Raymond P Eicholtz Officer May 27, 1923
Hugh K Painter Officer March 30, 1924
Albert E Cramblitt Officer October 1, 1925
James S Noon Officer December 25, 1927
Clinton R Rhodes Officer January 28, 1931
Theodore A Moore Officer September 25, 1932
Imla D Hubbard Officer First Class March 4, 1933
Joseph E Kuhn Officer April 8, 1934
Carroll C Creeger Officer First Class December 23, 1934
Wilbert V Hunter Quartermaster Sergeant February 7, 1936
J.F. Leo Shaab Officer July 22, 1937
Ellsworth D Dryden Quartermaster Sergeant October 7, 1938
Lauren M Ridge Trooper First Class July 14, 1950
Leonard N Brown Lieutenant July 7, 1958
Arthur W Plummer, Jr. Trooper First Class April 9, 1961
Thomas A Noyle Trooper First Class October 28, 1972
Phillip L Russ Trooper First Class October 28, 1972
Donald E Parkerson, Jr. Trooper First Class September 18, 1973
Charles S Rathell Trooper First Class September 18, 1973
Wallace J Mowbray Sergeant August 10, 1975
Mart  Hudson Trooper June 16, 1975
Milton V Purnell, Jr. Trooper May 29, 1975
Gregg A Presbury, Sr. Trooper December 17, 1977
William P Mills, Jr. Trooper First Class June 8, 1979
Gary L Wade Trooper January 30, 1982
Gregory A May Corporal January 19, 1986
Carey S Poetzman Trooper First Class January 19, 1986
Larry E Small Trooper March 10, 1987
John E Sawa Trooper First Class March 10, 1987
Eric D Monk Trooper First Class April 9, 1988
Theodore D Wolf, Sr. Corporal March 29, 1990
Mark P Groner Trooper First Class October 1, 1992
Edward A Plank, Jr. Trooper First Class October 17, 1995
Joseph T Lanzi Sr. Trooper First Class October 28, 1995
Raymond G Armstead, Jr. Trooper March 25, 1998
Edward M Toatley Corporal October 30, 2000
Anthony  Jones Trooper First Class May 9, 2004
Mickey C Lippy Trooper First Class September 27, 2008
Stephen H Bunker Pilot / Corporal (Ret.) September 27, 2008
Wesley  Brown Trooper First Class June 11, 2010
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