New Prince George’s police district brings new challenge for longtime officer -- Gazette.Net



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Maj. Tammy Sparkman has taken on a lot of new challenges during her nearly 23 years with the Prince George’s County Police Department. Now she’s adding a new notch to her belt: commander of a newly formed police district.

Sparkman, 48, of Upper Marlboro was promoted Dec. 30 from assistant commander in police District 5, which is located in Clinton, to commander of District 7, a new $11.8 million police station in Fort Washington scheduled to open in June 2014.

“Their gain is our loss,” said Carolyn Lowe, who has worked with Sparkman through the District 5 Citizens Advisory Council, a group that shares community concerns with the police. “She has really worked well with our community in just about everything we’ve done. She’s well-balanced because she knows how to get along with people, but she won’t tolerate crime.”

Sparkman grew up in Greenville, N.C., before moving to Maryland to “try something new.” She always wanted to be an officer, she said, and joined the county department, serving first in District 2 in Bowie. Her service has included eight years in the police press office and six years as a school resource officer, she said.

“What I most enjoy is the day-to-day interaction with people, whether in the community or the workplace,” Sparkman said. “I feel every person I encounter here has a story.”

Since her promotion, Sparkman has reached out to the community covered by the future District 7, which is being added to the current six police districts because of the large area needing coverage in southern Prince George’s. Currently, two police stations cover southern Prince George’s, which comprises about 51 percent of the county. The boundaries for District 7, which is expected to alleviate the strain on the other two districts, have not yet been finalized.

“I was impressed with her background and her commitment to serve her community well,” said Gerald “Jerry” Lucas, president of the Tantallon North Area Civic Association in Fort Washington.

Sparkman said District 7’s main challenge is reducing burglaries and thefts from vehicles. Police District 4, which includes the future District 7 area, experienced a 13 percent increase in burglaries from last March, although thefts from vehicles dropped 16.5 percent, said Lt. William Alexander of the police department’s media relations division. Countywide, burglaries were down 5.4 percent, with thefts from vehicles down 17.4 percent, he said.

Sparkman said she is also focused on addressing speculation that the station will be staffed by a “bunch of rookies.” District 7 will include new officers and veterans to guide them, she said.

Sparkman said she keeps an “open-door policy.”

“But I also tell my troops, ‘Don’t come in with a problem if you don’t have a solution,’” she said.

County Deputy Chief Hector Velez said Sparkman is the ideal person to lead the new district.

“Maj. Sparkman’s ability to communicate ideas and forge relationships will undoubtedly garner full support from the community when Police District 7 opens,” he said.

lrobbins@gazette.net