Harford County Detention Center Warden Elwood DeHaven will retire this month after nearly five years in the position, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office said Nov. 16, and no new warden will be named.
Sheriff Jesse Bane cited the current state of the economy and long-term restructuring plans in his decision not to appointment a replacement.
DeHaven’s last day on the job will be Friday, though his last day as an employee will be Dec. 1 due to holidays and unused leave time according to Harford County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Monica Worrell.
Oversight of the detention center will fall to Major Michael Capasso of the agency’s Corrections Bureau. Worrell said the transition is ongoing and exact details of how the warden’s duties would be covered were still being worked out.
DeHaven was a member of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office from 1978 until February 2007, when he retired as a major. One day later, he took up the civilian position of warden.
In that role, he oversaw a major $29 million expansion of the jail which will increase its capacity to approximately 800 inmates from a current 500 and add a variety of modernized facilities and units.
In a statement, Bane said DeHaven would not be replaced due to cost considerations.
“This decision was made in light of today’s economy and long term plans to restructure the operations to ensure cost effectiveness and efficiency throughout the agency,” Bane said.
Capasso, a 25-year veteran of the department who has worked at the detention center for virtually all of that time, was promoted to major in February to serve as assistant warden. Capasso was The Dagger’s guide on two walk-throughs of the existing facility and the new addition earlier this year.
Responding to questions from The Dagger about the change in command structure at the detention center, Harford County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Monica Worrell provided the following information:
How long has there been a warden at the detention center? Has there ever not been a warden position (as opposed to just no one filling that job) for any period of time?
There has always been an agency head or commander at the Harford County Detention Center. Under common law, the Sheriff of a jurisdiction is the warden. Sheriff Comes appointed the first “warden” around 1992. John O’Neil was the first person to serve in Harford County with the title of “warden”.
What is the reasoning behind the warden having been a civilian position in the past? What has changed now, not just financially but organizationally, that caused it those responsibilities to be shifted to uniformed, sworn personnel?
Prior to the appointment of O’Neil, the responsibilities for managing Harford County’s detention facilities had been handled by a sworn law enforcement officer assigned to the post. This restructuring is about removing a layer of bureaucracy. Sheriff Bane stated that he is looking to scale down the bureaucracy.
As a civilian position, what was the warden’s interaction/connection with the uniformed command structure? That is, as a command position within HCSO, but a civilian one, did the warden operate on a different basis than would a colonel or major in another branch?
The agency is divided into four bureaus of operation:, Police Services, Investigative Services, Services and Support and Correctional Services. The first three bureaus are currently led by Majors. To date, the Correctional Services Bureau is led by an individual with the title of Warden. All are members of the Harford County Command Team. Following DeHaven’s retirement, the Correctional Services Bureau will be lead by a Major, thus mirroring the existing three bureaus within the agency.
Was the warden more autonomous than other sworn personnel of equivalent responsibility? By bringing those responsibilites under the purview of someone in the uniformed HCSO chain of command, it seems that the sheriff is now, in effect, the warden?
The Sheriff has always been the Warden of the Harford County Detention Center under common law. The Sheriff holds all accountability for Detention Center.
Warden DeHaven left uniformed service to take up the job in early 2007, as one of Sheriff Bane’s first appointees. Why was the position not considered for elimination at that time?
In speaking with Sheriff Bane, he identified that as a new Sheriff that was not a part of his original plan as they were just beginning the expansion of the HCDC. Sheriff Bane wanted someone with strong expertise throughout the upcoming expansion process that was about to take place. Then Major DeHaven, now Warden DeHaven had been an integral part of every expansion effort the detention facilities of Harford County had experienced since 1978. Even though Sheriff Bane knew DeHaven only wanted to remain on board long enough to see the expansion completed, he wanted him in the Warden’s position to oversee the process.
What specifically were the warden’s duties, and what is the current, working plan to cover them or divide them up? How will those duties change or increase given the large new wing of the detention center which will increase the facility’s population?
A warden’s duties make him responsible for the administration of the Harford County Detention Center. Those duties and responsibilities are being transferred to the Assistant Warden aka the Major in charge of the Corrections Services Bureau. As stated earlier, Sheriff Bane is attempting to eliminate a layer of bureaucracy. Currently, the population of the HCDC is consistent with this time last year. Sheriff Bane stated that as the population of the HCDC increases, it may become necessary to reassess staffing levels and even consider the position of warden again. Right now, he believes there will be greater “efficiencies of operations” with this restructure. In so doing, he is doing what any other leader of a major corporation would do if he sees a change in operations is needed.