The 1990′s brought about substantial changes in the Sheriff’s Office. Most Sheriff’s Deputies now wear uniforms and drive marked vehicles. Since the early 70′s, deputies have received entry level training certifying them as Police Officers in the State of Maryland. Starting in the early 90′s, all deputies receive entry level police training at the Montgomery County Police Training Academy as part of the police recruit class. A Deputy Sheriff is assigned to the academy staff as a coordinator and instructor. This integration into the academy training has created a close and bonding relationship between the Sheriff’s Deputies and Police Officers and has strengthened the camaraderie between the two agencies.
Many new functions have necessitated new sections and divisions within the office. In the early 90′s the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office formed its first canine team. A German Shepard named “Odum” was purchased, and along with its handler were sent to the United States Capitol Police Canine Training Academy. The team’s primary training focused on explosive detection but also received street training. The team graduated number two in their class, and were recognized for graduating with the second highest score in the history of the training academy. Odum was used for courthouse security and was called out to respond to bomb threats within Montgomery County. Odum has since passed and his handler retired, but a new team has been formed to continue their work.
On November 18, 1995 the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office became the first Sheriff’s Office in the State of Maryland to receive accredited status from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. This milestone demonstrated that the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office voluntarily met all applicable national standards established for law enforcement agencies.
July 1, 1996, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office embarked on a program funded by a State Grant, and created a formal Child Support Section. This section was staffed and supplied, including furniture and vehicles, by grant funds. For the first time, deputies were dedicated to the service of child support summons and warrants.
As a result of increasing numbers of reported domestic violence and sweeping changes in the law in the 90′s, the Sheriff’s Office on June 3, 1996 established a formal Domestic Violence Section committed to the prompt service and enforcement of orders that provide safety to victims of domestic violence. July 1, 1997 saw the first time the Sheriff’s Office budget exceeded 8 million dollars. A new function that was responsible for the rise above this historic mark, was entry level security screening for the Judicial Center. A contract security guard company was hired by the Sheriff’s Office to operate the new walk through magnetometers and x-ray machines.
On October 15, 1998, eight Russian Marshals visited the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office as part of an exchange program to teach former communist block countries about American legal procedures. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals picked the Sheriff’s Office to host the visiting law enforcement officers. The group was sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to see how marshals are used in the justice system so that the Russians could apply it to their own organizations.
The Sheriff’s Office has reached many milestones and will continue to do so in the new millennium. Darren M. Popkin, the current High Sheriff, is the 74th person to be elected to the highest Law Enforcement Office In Montgomery County.