From Jeffrey R. Gahler:
At two recent community “Town Hall” meetings, Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane took the opportunity to espouse “facts” concerning Sheriff’s Office staffing levels that are easily demonstrated to be an apparent work of fiction. Sheriff Bane again provided misleading facts concerning his Office’s staffing levels during a subsequent news conference concerning the State shifting teacher pensions to the counties.
A simple check of Uniform Crime Report data published by the Maryland State Police shows that Sheriff Bane is either uninformed or is not being candid in his comments concerning deployment of County law enforcement resources. The motivation for misrepresenting basic staffing is suspect. Were the citizens of Harford County mislead for a political purpose or due to a lack of familiarity with reported facts? Regardless of the motivation, the population and officer data does not equal 0.8 officers per 1000 citizens as Sheriff Bane claims.
Data provided to the Statewide Uniform Crime Reporting Program by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office reveal that the Harford County Sheriff’s Office reports 292 sworn law enforcement deputies, Maryland State Police reports 54 troopers assigned to Harford County, Havre de Grace Police Department reports 35 police officers, Bel Air Police Department reports 31 police officers, and the Aberdeen Police Department reports 45 police officers. The data presented above is self reported by each agency and can be found on page 201 of the Report.
Data extracted directly from the 2010 Uniform Crime Report reveals Harford County’s population was 246,347 (page 96). Using basic math, the actual ratio of officers to citizens is shown to be 1.9 officers per 1000 Harford County citizens (page 195). Although this is a 2010 Report, it is the most up-to-date printed source for the information and the small changes in population and staffing over the past year are not significant enough to change the ratio.
Even when the population of the three incorporated municipalities is not included in the County’s total population, and only the Deputy Sheriffs and State Troopers who serve Harford County are included in the calculation, the ration is roughly 1.6 officers per 1000 Harford County citizens. To further the review into officer staffing in the County, utilizing only the number of Deputy Sheriffs in the equation, the ratio is roughly 1.2 officers per 1000 Harford County citizens.
I present these figures in an effort to establish an understanding of fact. The information presented by Sheriff Bane during the community meetings and press conferences is misleading and could lead a reader to believe he accomplishes much with little. The fact is that by utilizing an antiquated staffing model discontinued by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and incorrect ratios of law enforcement officers to citizens, Sheriff Bane has attempted to seek some type of recognition and demonstrate a need for additional personnel while avoiding questions of need based on measurable data driven demands for law enforcement services.
More accurate staffing models for today’s police departments are based on calls for service and other definitive and measurable demands. If there is a need for additional personnel, the citizens of this County should expect Sheriff Bane to use facts to demonstrate the need, not fiction. We should all expect the complete facts from our elected officials, especially the Sheriff.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address an issue important to the safety of our communities.
Jeffrey R. Gahler
Link to 2010 Uniform Crime Report: http://icac.mdsp.org/downloads/2010_Crime_in_Maryland_Book.pdf