On her second day of field training after graduation from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office academy, Christina Presberry got anything but a rookie call: a possible shooting and a barricade situation at the Perrywood Apartments in Aberdeen.
It didn’t end there. The intense—or sometimes just odd—situations kept on coming. After a few more years on the beat, the number of nutty incidents Presberry was involved in earned her a nickname.
“The ‘nut magnet,’” Presberry told members of the 18th class of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Citizens Police Academy Tuesday night.
“If there was someone that wasn’t flying right, they’d find me–if they were within five miles of me, they’d find me,” she said. “They’d just walk up and say something and I’d be like, ‘I can’t let that go.’”
Presberry, now a major in charge of the agency’s Police Services Bureau, detailed the operations of the uniformed deputies who patrol the county, the community policing unit, the special operations units, and others.
Among the information shared with the class:
–The bureau consists of 188 deputies, including 62 deputies in the northern precinct, 80 deputies in the southern precinct, and 36 deputies in the special operations unit, as well as nine vacant deputy recruit positions for an incoming class, Presberry said. The number of officers on duty or available varies, she said, but in the southern precinct, roughly everything south of Route 1, a minimum of 10 deputies are on duty during the day, and a minimum of nine at night. In the northern precinct, a minimum of six deputies are on duty during the day and five at night.
–Following a string of recent burglaries in the county, Presberry urged the class to be aware of their surroundings while entering and leaving their homes, and to contact authorities if anything seemed out of order.
“When you get a feeling about something, go with that feeling, because I’ve learned it might save your life,” she said.
Also, Presberry said the bureau’s community policing unit offers free security checks of homes and commercial properties. Interested persons should contact Sgt. Kevin Thomas at 410-638-3713.
–The Sheriff’s Office does not have a standing SWAT team, but a group can be assembled in a “matter of minutes” if the necessary officers are working. The group is most often available from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Presberry said, and can be in place within 45 minutes if the deputies are on duty, longer if not.
The time required to assemble the team led to a question of whether deputies are required to live within the county. They are not, Presberry said, but the agency’s take home car policy requires that those taking a vehicle home live within 26 miles of Bel Air. Presberry said she was unsure how the specific distance requirement had been determined.
–Senior citizens are a great resource for the agency, Presberry said, thanks to their keen observation of their communities. “They know everyone and everything going on in their neighborhood. They know,” she said. Unfortunately, she said the elderly are often less likely to call the police when they actually need help, “because they don’t want to bother anyone.”
–Recruits to the Sheriff’s Office tend to have the most trouble with some of the physical training, such as defensive tactics, said Presberry, as many are unused to aggressive physical contact.
She added that the type of recruit applying to the agency has changed since her first days as an instructor at the academy. She said the newer recruits were coming in with more issues, such as previous legal run-ins, and that some failed drug tests somewhat more often than their predecessors. While washout rates from the actual training remain comparable, Presberry said, more would-be recruits are being denied in the application process.
Next Week: A tour of the Harford County Courthouse and a look at the court services bureau.