While many people are off work for the holidays, police officers are among those who report to duty no matter the time of year.
Deputy First Class Brandon Jewell was among the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies working Christmas Eve this year. He’s been with the sheriff’s office for about four years and has worked holidays in the past.
Though he’d rather be with his family, Jewell said locals tend to make the shift enjoyable.
“A lot of the citizens are very nice and generous,” he said. “I can remember times where people came up and wished us a happy holiday.”
There have been times when someone gave an officer a card or gift card to say thank you, Jewell said. It’s always appreciated.
Which deputies work when depends on their schedule. Their shifts rotate, so if someone happens to be scheduled on a holiday, they work that day.
“In comparison to most days, [it’s] generally pretty quiet,” Jewell said.
Numbers show that statement holds true. On a typical two-day weekend, the sheriff’s office will see about 800 calls for service. From Dec. 24-25, 2019, the sheriff’s office received 471 calls for service, according to numbers provided by spokesman Todd Wivell.
Of those 471 calls, 111 were patrol checks on businesses, neighborhoods and schools, which Jewell said is common as deputies try to keep an eye on closed facilities. There were also 45 directed patrol activities, which involve checking high crime and accident areas.
During Christmas Eve and Christmas 2019, the sheriff’s office conducted 64 traffic stops, received 52 calls to 911, responded to 10 calls for suspicious activity, 10 suspicious vehicles, seven incidents of property damage and seven noise complaints, among other calls. They assisted other police departments 10 times and assisted fire departments on four occasions during that period.
From Dec. 24-25, 2018, the sheriff’s office received 446 calls for service, including 56 calls to 911. Of those 446, there were 87 traffic stops, 84 patrol checks, 27 directed patrol activities, 10 suspicious vehicles, nine instances of suspicious activity, nine reports of property damage and six noise complaints. The sheriff’s office assisted other police departments 10 times and fire companies six.
Frederick Police Acting Capt. Kirk Henneberry said the Christmas shift usually has a Sunday feel to it.
“The good thing is, even if you’re working, you know you’re going to get off at some point so you can enjoy the holiday,” he said.
He recalled making an arrest one year for a domestic dispute. Another time, he was sent to pick up cookies from a woman who wanted to treat the department.
“They like to fatten up the police officers around the holidays,” Henneberry joked.
Even when officers are away from their loved ones on Christmas, he said coworkers feel like a family. He’s walked into a roll call to find all of the officers wearing Santa hats. Henneberry said they try not to be the “Grinch” on Christmas.
Like the sheriff’s office, FPD records from the past two years show the holidays tend to elicit fewer calls. Lt. Andrew Alcorn said they get roughly 400 calls on a normal day. On Dec. 24, 2019, FPD received 242 calls, then 154 calls on Christmas, according to numbers provided by Alcorn. In 2018, Christmas Eve elicited 205 calls while Christmas produced 188.
Of the calls from Dec. 24-25, 2019, there were 98 patrol checks, 59 traffic stops, 42 calls to 911, 18 business checks, 14 noise complaints, 11 well-being checks, six suspicious vehicles, five instances of suspicious activity, five domestic disputes, three thefts, three instances of property damage accidents, one rape and one residential burglary, among other calls. FPD assisted other police departments five times and assisted fire departments six times.
Of the calls from Dec. 24-25, 2018, there were 88 patrol checks, 54 traffic stops, 43 calls to 911, 19 noise complaints, 18 business checks, nine well-being checks, eight suspicious vehicles, eight instances of suspicious activity, four domestic disputes, three instances of property damage accidents, two thefts, two suicide attempts and one overdose, among other calls. FPD assisted other police departments six times and assisted fire departments four times.
Though the Christmas shift tends to be slower than normal, Henneberry says anything can happen and officers can’t get complacent.
“We’re always working 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Henneberry said. “If you call us and you need us, we’re coming.”
Henneberry and Jewell wished residents a happy holiday, but urged them to stay safe as they celebrate.