In 1993, the Department of Corrections was established to supervise County correctional facilities, coordinate transportation of inmates, meet the needs of those incarcerated, and ensure inmate and public safety. In addition to basic needs, the Department provides educational and skill training, and public re-entry programs.

The Department oversees the County Detention Center and three divisions: Pre-trial Services, Community Corrections, and Alternative Sentencing.

The first Baltimore County Jail was built in 1854 at Towson on what now is the corner of Bosley Avenue and Towsontowne Boulevard. The Jail was placed under the authority of the Sheriff, who was responsible for its oversight and providing for the needs of the inmates. Supervision of the County Jail and its staff transferred from the Sheriff to the Warden in 1903 (Chapter 118, Acts of 1902). Today, the Warden is appointed by the Board of County Commissioners to a two-year term.

To handle a growing population, a second building was added to the County Jail in 1955, with an annex constructed in 1975. On Kenilworth Drive in Towson, the County Detention Center was added in 1982, with an annex in 1994. Designed to hold more than 1,500 inmates, an additional building was added in May 2006.


Established in March 1882, the Fire Department was authorized to maintain a central fire station that would be connected to areas of the County through alarm boxes attached to telegraph poles. In cases of violation of State and local fire ordinances, the Department conducted investigations and issued summons (Chapter 113, Acts of 1882). At Towson, the first station was built after 1882. It was expanded in 1888. At Reisterstown, also in 1888, a second firehouse was authorized (Chapters 391 & 436, Acts of 1888).

Today, over fifty career and volunteer stations are overseen by the Fire Department. While providing fire-fighting and protection services, the Department also provides emergency medical and rescue services, hazmat prevention and response, and swiftwater and dive teams. The Department maintains the Fire Rescue Academy at Sparows Point, and offers training programs on-line and in the community (County Code, secs. 3-2-701 & 3-2-702).

The Fire Chief is appointed by the County Executive (County Charter, sec. 402).

The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management develops local emergency plans to prepare for all kinds of emergencies, from natural disasters to terrorism, and coordinates plans with federal, State and local agencies, as well as private and nonprofit organizations. To alert and aid residents during and after emergencies, the Office broadcasts information through local radio and television networks regarding closures, evacuations, shelters, and other emergency news.

The Office is overseen by the Director, who is appointed by the Governor (Code Public Safety Article, secs. 14-109 through 14-113.


Originally, the Sheriff's Office served as the primary law enforcement agency in Baltimore County. That authority was transferred to the Police Department in April 1874 (Chapter 374, Acts of 1874). The enabling statute allowed for the commission of up to thirty officers and five chief officers. In June 1874, the Board of County Commissioners appointed the County's first police force. Officers were appointed to one-year terms of service, and assigned throughout five police districts. Chief Officers managed the districts, and reported directly to the Board (Chapter 374, Acts of 1874).

Created by the Board of County Commissioners in 1883, the Marshal of Police assumed oversight of the Police Department. The Marshal of Police was renamed Police Chief in 1928, and today is Chief of Police (County Charter, sec. 541). Now, with the County divided into twelve precincts, officers receive their commissions from the County Council.

The Department maintains divisions to investigate and prevent crime, including child abuse, cyber crimes, gang violence, homicides, hostage situations, and traffic incidents. Law enforcement is the primary responsibility of the Police Department, which aids other first response units through traffic and crowd control. The Department also serves as liaison to the federal Department of Homeland Security through the Homeland Security Division, and helps to identify and prevent potential threats to national security.

Under the Department are two bureaus: Administrative and Technical Services; and Operations.


The Administrative and Technical Services Bureau oversees the Criminal Information and Analysis Division and the Technical Services Division.


The Operations Bureau formerly was responsible for the Eastern Patrol Division and the Western Patrol Division. Today, the Bureau oversees the Patrol Division and the Support Operations Bureau.

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