The following letter was sent by former Harford County Sheriff Tom Golding to several local newspapers, which refused to publish it, Golding claimed, saying among other things that it was contrary to their recollection of events.
Commenting that he “didn’t know that that was a standard by which a letter to the editor or to an opinion colunm was judged,” Golding provided a copy of his letter to The Dagger, hoping that we would publish it.
“I do hope that you will post it as I feel that the citizens of Harford County need to understand that Sheriff Bane is not being candid as to his credentials and as my letter indicates he likes to take credit for the efforts of others which is a deception to the voters as they think he responsible for all these initiatives,” Golding said.
“Please be assured that I am not overstating things from my end and that the events, etc alluded to in the letter are factual as others can attest,” Golding added.
Here is the full text of Golding’s letter:
I was recently contacted by a number of people concerning your lead article “A Lid on Gangs in Harford” dated March 19th. After reading the piece, I fully understand their displeasure with the article and Sheriff Bane. It seems that Sheriff Bane has a less than clear memory of what occurred six years ago especially his total lack of involvement during that time period. It has never ceased to amaze me how Sheriff Bane routinely deflects personal responsibility yet will readily accept credit where it certainly isn’t due. Let’s be very clear, the comment that I “grudgingly” accepted gangs is way off base and contrary, as usual, to the facts. The Sheriff’s Office was aware of the low level presence of gangs reaching back into the Sheriff Comes administration. I know this as I commanded the Narcotics/Vice and Intelligence Unit at that time. Their presence from that time and up to the unfortunate murder of the cab driver had been solely confined to dealing drugs. When I became Sheriff, I instituted the practice of having an intelligence briefing at every monthly Command Staff meeting. During that time we were briefed on many matters, among which were ongoing drug investigations. It was during late 2003, that we began to learn that several drug organizations had begun to haphazardly align with the Bloods and Crips. All information we received indicated that they were still solely confined to the drug markets. No information from all available sources indicated that a single punk would decide to take the life of an innocent, hardworking and dedicated family man during the act of a robbery. In fact, we had no idea that it was gang related until after the arrests were made. As a result, we took immediate steps to gather further information to determine if this was an isolated incident committed by a rouge wannabe or a concerted effort to expand the gang role within Harford County. The results revealed that it was in fact both and that outside leadership had quietly arrived and was seeking to make additional inroads throughout the county, especially along the Rt. 40 corridor. Given that information, I immediately, in conjunction with County Executive Harkins, established a strategic planning group in order to develop a short and long term strategy to address this obvious concern. One of the first steps resulting from that plan was the formation of the Gang Suppression Unit as well as the assignment of personnel at the Detention Center charged with gathering much needed information concerning inmates association with gang activity (quite to the contrary of Sheriff Bane’s indication that he formed the unit at the Detention Center). In addition, a detailed community and governmental education plan was implemented. Countless hours were spent educating the public, governmental agencies and school administrators regarding gangs. The Gang Suppression Unit was availed of many gang training programs to include an “internship” with the PG County Gang Unit. I sought the assistance of the US Attorney, Rod Rosenstein, and working with the federal resouces he brought to bear numerous criminal convictions were obtained against various gang leaders. In addition, in June 2005, Governor Ehrlich presented me with a $50,000.00 check to further assist us in these efforts. So for Sheriff Bane to in anyway lead the public to believe that he was the one who instituted the gang strategies and units that have supposedly proven successful to date is irresponsible and a discredit to all the dedicated efforts of many since 2004. Then Major Bane was not in anyway part of these efforts. In fact, on several occasions he had to be directed by the Chief Deputy or myself to provide personnel to assist in various special initiatives targeting gang activity due to his stubborn reluctance to provide needed personnel when approached by other commanders. Major Bane had a “seat at the table” but brought nothing to it especially where gang strategies were involved and again for him to in anyway indicate such is a deception to the citizens of Harford County.
As I have indicated, there is nothing that bothers me more than for someone to have the gall to accept credit for the efforts and acheivements of others. The day after I was sworn in, we dedicated the new state of the art firing range located in Broadcreek. At that time, I took the opportunity to give much deserved credit to former Sheriff Joe Meadows for without his support and efforts we would not have that facility. I say this because I have come to realize that Sheriff Bane will readily make you believe that he and he alone is responsible for the indicated reductions and the strategies which achieved them. It is abundantly clear to me and to many who were on the frontline when these gangs came to reality that the strategies developed in 2004 and 2005 are what has led to any successes. In 2004, we had just begun the fight and like any strategy the proof is in the long term. As part of any attempt to address ongoing criminal gangs one must comprehend the scope of their criminal enterprise. Gangs as we knew them then were aligned to the drug trade. However, it has, since that time become abundantly clear that they are and will be involved in any criminal act that will give them power and a source of income. It is my understanding that Sheriff Bane has decided that gangs are not involved in robberies. If this is in fact his position and edict to his staff then he is even less atuned and even more naive than I ever thought he was. Either this is an utter lack of understanding (which would not be unusual) or an effort to sway the crime statistics to reflect less gang related crime. Either way this is again a total disservice to the public and a slap in the face of his investigators and patrol personnel who are on the fronlines and know what they are facing. The last thing they and the citizens of Harford County need is a Sheriff who has “no clue”.
R. Thomas Golding
Retired Sheriff of Harford County