Maryland State Trooper Graduation Ceremony
April 27, 2007
Colonel Hutchins, thank you very, very much for your kind introduction. Ladies and gentlemen, our fellow citizens, proud family members and friends, distinguished guests, 129th Trooper Candidate’s Class: It’s a great honor for me to join you at this time of celebration. And Colonel Hutchins, I look forward to being at all of these graduation ceremonies, and I mean that sincerely. I can probably count on maybe one or two fingers how many graduations of our Baltimore City police officers I have missed.
On behalf of the people of our state, I really want to congratulate all of you on your tremendous accomplishment. Your families and friends may not know that only about 5 percent of the people that actually apply end up being able to sit in these seats for these occasions. You have endured and successfully completed 26 weeks of intense training and rigorous study. And while your training in one sense will never truly be over, I promise you that you will never have to eat another string bean again if you choose not to. [Laughter]
I also want to thank your families, your friends, and your spouses and your loved ones who are here. Without them, you would not be able to answer the calling that you had in your heart to become a Maryland State Trooper.
To the family, I want to thank you on behalf of our citizens because I know that some of you thought you were raising doctors or lawyers or businesspeople or accountants, but in God’s divine plan, you were actually raising a Maryland State Trooper.
And I submit to you that there is no profession like law enforcement that is more critical to maintaining the quality of life and the freedoms that we enjoy. I was with General Tuxill just yesterday when we sent off approximately 138 of our Maryland National Guard to go to Iraq. These are challenging times and during challenging times it is our commitment to public service that you exemplify that all of us draw our experience from.
Regardless of where your careers may take you, my friends, these men and women that we honor today really do exemplify the best. They represent what the Free State is all about. The most important responsibility that we have in our country is the protection of public safety. Without that, nothing else is possible. Without that, nothing else is possible.
And in the months and years ahead, we have the privilege to be able to work together, and I promise you that Anthony Brown and I are going to do everything that we can in partnership with the elected leaders of our state and local governments to give you the support that you need. You are the most visible front line, if you will, in this state’s struggle to improve public safety. But you cannot do it alone. You need us to be able to back you up.
And I wanted to go through, not exhaustively, but just touch on a few things that we have been able to do in the short period of time that I have had the honor to be able to serve as your governor.
We have invested a million dollars this year in order to knock out what had become a really huge back law in our DNA analysis, that modern day fingerprint that allows all police forces to be able to take violent criminals off our streets. We have added additional specialist physicians and new equipment to take advantage of this new technology to protect our people.
Secondly, we have secured 2.4 million dollars with the consent of the General Assembly to equip all Maryland State Police patrol cars with mobile data and cues. Critically important that whatever intelligence is gathered at the federal or state level, you have access to that when you are out there doing your very difficult and dangerous job.
Third, by investing in the tracking and monitoring of sexual offenders and ending parole for those offenders under Jessica’s law, we are trying to do our part in making sure that our laws are current and support you and your mission.
Fourth, it is our hope that you will never have to use your firearm in the line of duty, but if you do, you deserve to have the best, most modern weapon available, and that is why we were successful in obtaining almost a million dollars in order to replace, with more modern weapons, all of your firearms.
Fifth, Maryland has been asked to play a greater role, as every state has, in our nation’s homeland security. To make our state a leader, we are in the process of improving interoperability, also constituting a new security council, and hopefully doing an even better job consolidating our intelligence and doing a better job in disseminating it.
Finally, to improve public safety, we know that the Maryland State Police are not the only asset out there on the board. We have to do a better job of reforming and improving our Juvenile Justice and Juvenile Services. If you look at all the thefts that have happened in out state, so often, you look at a lot of the carnage that still happens in many neighborhoods, often times, it is fueled by young people. That represents our failure to all that we should be doing as a state. If we intervene earlier in their lives so that you’re not left to be intervening in more radical ways.
We also are going to beef up our parole and probation. You should not have to arrest the same offender seven, eight, nine times before they are taken off the street. So, we are going to do our job on parole and probation.
We have been talking for fifty years about closing down the horrible house of corrections, where 100 of you had to respond when Officer McGuinn was killed there fairly recently. And just five weeks into this new administration, we closed down that house of corrections and we did it thanks to your help and support without a single correctional officer being injured or a single inmate being injured.
We still have more work to do. This is an important mission and we intend to stick to it.
It has been, and will always be, one of the very great honors of my life that for a brief while I am able to support you in what is your life’s vocation; to improve safety in our state.
The Maryland State Flag, the flag on your insignia, really represents the spirit of things eternal… it says we can, through our own actions, choose a better and safer tomorrow… and it says that in our Maryland, there is no such thing as a spare American. Everyone is important.
That same flag that was carried on the shores of Normandy, it stood for freedom the world over, and is the spirit that you exemplify today. I am very, very proud of each and every one of you today.
On behalf of the grateful citizens of our State, thank you for finding it in your heart to give yourselves in service to your neighbors.
God bless you.