By: Diane Richardson, Charles County Sheriff’s Office PIO
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to announce Cpl. Brad Saunders of the Traffic Operations Unit received theTraffic Safety Awardfrom the Maryland Sheriff’s Association at the MSA’s annual conference held last week.
Cpl. Saunders was recognized for his work in establishing and monitoring the Agency’s new Tow Program which went into effect in 2018 after other Traffic Operations officers successfully pushed for legislation mandating all tow companies in Charles County to be registered through the CCSO. Sheriff Troy D. Berry, who was in attendance at the conference, said, “Cpl. Saunders took charge of building the Tow Program and has created a well-regulated and effectively-monitored system. He maintains excellent records and consistently looks for ways to improve traffic safety and accountability in this area.”
The Tow Program was created after members of the CCSO Traffic Operations Unit (TOU) recognized the need for laws and regulations to combat predatory towing after the TOU conducted a six-month investigation of a tow company employing predatory practices.
The members of the TOU took the initiative of developing and getting local laws passed to regulate tow companies in Charles County. Once the law was passed in 2018, Cpl. Saunders created the CCSO Tow Program by creating a policy and procedure for the implementation of the newly passed law and the registration of tow companies.
The Tow Program currently consists of 44 towing companies and 133 approved trucks. Cpl. Saunders designed the administrative procedures for the program and developed the application required to be completed by tow companies to participate.
In order to maintain the program, Cpl. Saunders receives all applications and ensures all mandatory documents are attached, such as insurance for vehicles and business, truck registration, lease/rental agreements, driving records, medical cards, business licenses, and zoning permits. All the documents are checked to ensure they are valid. If documents are found not to be valid a letter is generated requesting the issue be addressed within a set time period.
Cpl. Saunders investigates all tow truck operators applying to the authorized driver’s list. Once drivers are approved, they are added to the authorized driver’s list and appointments are made to inspect the company tow trucks and their facilities. In addition, he investigates all complaints received from patrol officers and citizens about the conduct of tow operators and tow companies.
As a certified commercial vehicle inspector, Cpl. Saunders inspects all tow trucks and places them on the approved list or provides a list of issues that must be resolved before the truck may be placed in service. All trucks that pass inspection are awarded a medallion which is installed by Cpl. Saunders on the truck in a visible location so other officers can easily identify the tow truck as a certified tow provider. The medallion was designed by Cpl. Saunders.
Cpl. Saunders also inspects all businesses where the vehicles will be stored. He ensures the area is in compliance with the law and is properly equipped with gate locks, lighting, proper fencing and has business signs in plain view.
“This exceptional police service is a collateral duty and Cpl. Saunders does all this while performing his job as a traffic safety officer assisting his unit doing Motor assignments, Traffic Enforcement, Commercial Vehicle Inspections, and DRE assignments,” said Sheriff Berry.
“I am proud to have received this award and I consider my work in this area labor of love. I am dedicated to highway safety in all areas and this program is just one aspect. I work with a great team and many people played a role in helping us get to this point,” said Cpl. Saunders.