Gahler: Bane “Failed to Provide Effective Leadership” on Issue of Detention Center Deaths

From Jeffrey R. Gahler:

Earlier this month, another inmate being held in the Harford County Detention Center attempted to take his own life. There have been many statements made indicating that this latest incident did result in the inmate’s death, however, attempts to verify the statements through any official reporting meets only silence. If yet another inmate has died under Sheriff Bane’s watch and this information has not been released, the obvious question is why not? In an effort to be thorough, I have checked many news sources for the truth related to the outcome of this incident or even further details on this incident, but it is apparent such information is not being shared by Sheriff Bane with the public. If this was yet another successful suicide, this would bring the total number of lives lost under Sheriff Bane’s watch to eight, a regrettable record loss of life for any Sheriff’s term.

There are those individuals who do not view a suicide, much less the suicide of an inmate, as a preventable act or an act that merits a second thought. Any loss of life is tragic and every effort must be made to ensure the safety of those individuals under the supervision of Sheriff Bane while being held at the Detention Center, even if that protection is from themselves. It is Sheriff Bane’s basic responsibility to protect people in his custody from harm and to uphold their constitutional rights. As proclaimed on the Sheriff’s Office’s Website, “The primary purpose of the Detention Center is to provide care, custody and safety of the prisoners and staff, it also offers a variety of programs to inmates.”

As the Detention Center is under Sheriff Bane’s command and control and he has failed to provide effective leadership to confront these tragedies and to address the needs of the Detention Center, he must concede his failure to accomplish the mission. There are a myriad of issues currently impacting the Detention Center and its staff, but none more pressing than effective leadership. Sheriff Bane has allowed the Detention Center to operate without solid leadership for more than a year. The absence of a warden at the Detention Center is a conscious decision made by the Sheriff that adversely affects the safety of the dedicated staff and those under their supervision.

Ironically, and after six months without a warden, Sheriff Bane announced that his chief deputy would serve in the role and there would be no need to hire a new warden. In a shocking demonstration of indecisiveness, three days later Sheriff Bane decided that a new warden was the correct course for the Detention Center. Having apparently decided on the proper course of action, an additional six months have passed with no leader being hired for the warden’s position.

Preventable inmate deaths require immediate and decisive leadership and the absence of this leadership will only compound this and other issues that challenge the Harford County Detention Center. In March 2012, I submitted a letter in reference to inaccurate staffing information being provided to the public by Sheriff Bane and the conclusion of the letter stated, “With a record number of in-custody deaths under Sheriff Bane’s watch, I am disappointed that he does not turn his staffing formula efforts more to the Detention Center’s needs.” We are now six months beyond that letter and the issues that gave rise to my concerns over the Sheriff’s handling of the Detention Center continue. Six months and an entire year since the vacancy in the Harford County Detention Center’s leadership was created with the retirement of Warden DeHaven and the Detention Center has been left neglected and floundering.

Regrettably, we have seen repeated attempts by Sheriff Bane to cover facts with fiction and yet again, this issue reflects that same pattern. When questioned about the previous suicide that took place in the Detention Center and as documented in a related news article by The Dagger, the Sheriff’s own spokesperson, Monica Worrell, “told The Aegis that there was no indication that he was a threat to himself. But following further questions posed by The Dagger, Worrell said jail records showed Kelley had in fact been on suicide watch just a day before his death, as well as during an earlier incarceration in July” (, April 2, 2012).

In an official response from Sheriff Bane concerning the retirement of Warden DeHaven, the Sheriff minimized the value of the warden’s position indicating, “The Sheriff has always been the Warden of the Harford County Detention Center under common law” and continuing with “The Sheriff holds all accountability for Detention Center” (, November 16, 2011). Under his own declaration, Sheriff Bane is solely accountable for the ongoing issues at the Harford County Detention Center and solely responsible for the failures.

As stated, the leadership issue is just one of a host of issues that Sheriff Bane has failed to address at the Detention Center, but one that should not continue. Any defense is not acceptable. Assigning the responsibilities of the Detention Center to others who remain in their assigned positions is not the correct response. Relief, in the form of a full time qualified warden is required. The safety and security of the Detention Center, the inmates and the hard working women and men working for the Office of the Sheriff should be of paramount importance.

Jeffrey R. Gahler


  1. Marks 8th Cousin In-Law says

    Is anyone shocked? This is typical of Jesse Bane and his command staff. Do you really think that Jesse cares about his deputies or inmates that are dying? Story after story comes to light about how Sheriff Bane treats his rank and file like crap, has no managment skills, and has little or no control of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. A few deputies have screwed up but for the most part the men and women that serve this county both in Law enforcement and at the detention center deserve better. Even high ranking commanders question Banes style of leadership. Leadership is about taking responsibility not making excuses. Sheriff Bane take responsibility.

  2. Republican Voter says

    What happened to the Warden that was there and since there is no Warden who gets the blame for this one? How much more money in wrongful death suits will we pay out before the people start taking notice of the lack of leadership at the top.

    • Robin Hood says

      Good question Republican Voter. How much money has Bane cost the Harford County Taxpayers from lawsuits or increased insurance premiums?

    • Marc Eaton says

      WBAL, WJZ, and the other news stations will not touch any story about Bane. We all know the sleagis is in the bag for Bane. I wonder if the Dagger will look into how much money the County has paid out since Bane was elected?

  3. Leon Burger says

    I don’t know about WBAL, but looking around the internet I found that the Department of Justice investigates these things. I found two investigations on their web site where the ratio of deaths was lower, but the jails were found to be negligent. Let the federal government look into it. What’s it take to put someone in charge? Why didn’t Colonel Carlevaro stay?

  4. Sam I am says

    Sheriff Bane is ultimately responsible for the care and custody of the inmates, however, he isn’t standing in front of all 425 of them 24-7, neither are the officers. The sheriff has a tough job. What would you do differently Jeff? I would assume that the Sheriff outsources his medical services to a contractor.

    So WWJeffDo?

    • OnPoint says

      It appears that Gahler would hire a warden if that is what he is suggesting should have already been done. Pretty slow of you Sam I Am.

    • DeputyDog says

      Talk about dumb comments. You are right. Bane is ultimately responsible for these deaths.

    • Mike Welsh says


      I would agree with Mr. Gahler on the hiring of a Warden. Additionally, I would be looking for a different mental health professional(s) to provide evaluations of inmate mental health. Those two necessary changes along with adequate Correctional Officer staffing is paramount to improve inmate and officer safety!

  5. Trying to survive for Twenty Five says

    Medical services are outsourced to ConMed and they can only be described as bottom of the barrel, low bidder, and you get what you pay for. Our psych doctor has been mentioned on here before as abusing his power over special watches and use of segregation cells. However, nobody wants to be the one to challenge him because he has the degree/special education and challenging him means taking on the liability if you are wrong.

    On the topic of having a Warden, our last Warden was little more than a guy in a cheap suit that walked around waiting for the day that he might have to be the fall guy when shit hit the fan. Otherwise, day to day operations were left to the floor level supervisors while agency policy came from uptown. So in that regard, the only difference between now and then is that the blame has shifted from the guy in the cheap suit to the Sheriff.

    Despite all of this, Jeff Gahler’s attempt to make every little thing that happens negatively in this county appear to be the sheriff’s fault is just as pathetic as the poor leadership he speaks of. There are a variety of reasons why people are dying in the Harford County Detention Center and those reasons would continue to plague any Sheriff. The drug use has shifted from recreational drugs to narcotics meaning that today’s inmate population is in the worst health it has ever been. Inmates in their twenties are coming in with their bodies in the condition of those in hospice care. Mental hospitals have been closing their doors and the remaining ones are full, leaving the detention center to hold those that ordinarily would have gone off to the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. Psychotropic drugs are creating mentally ill patients out of otherwise healthy individuals and soldiers are returning with PTSD. Plain and simple this is not the same job, world, county, facility, or inmate population it was ten years ago.

    Jeff Gahler has made some good points but unfortunately I think he has also diluted them by blaming every incident that isn’t a result of mother nature on the sheriff’s office.

    • Mike Welsh says

      Trying to survive,

      I don’t believe Mr. Gahler is suggesting that an “empty suit” be hired for the position of Warden. I also believe leadership can force the acquisition of competent mental health professionals trained to understand the correctional environment.

      I hope you make it to twenty-five.

    • Ed Kabernagel says

      Trying to Survive for 25, Really, every little thing that happens??? Really?? Traffic Deaths, Inmate Deaths, Officer Safety… Sounds like Gahler is addressing the big issues that Bane has failed to do….

    • OnPoint says

      Mr. Gahler bringing attention to issues at the Sheriff’s Office for which the Sheriff is to blame is hardly blaming anyone for everything that happens in the county. He has been right on the mark on each public safety issue he has addressed in his letters. Also, I have never seen anything from him that is anything but complimentary of the employees of the Sheriff’s Office, so I would not agree that he blames the Sheriff’s Office as a whole for anything.

      You do make a lot of good and insightful comments. Good luck on getting your 25 and getting there safely.

  6. Sam I am says

    So hiring a Warden will make a rainbow set on the DC’s ass? Too funny. Wardens are bobble heads. Their sole purpose is to be the fall guy. Staffing has been an issue with the HCDC since they broke ground in 1974. It is impossible for the DC to maintain adequate staffing levels. This is for a number of reasons to include the exact same requirements for both positions (LE & Corrections), yet LE makes 10k more a year than corrections once DFC is applied. LE is also issued a take home car, free gas and has liberal use of the vehicle while off duty.

    FACT….A 10 year DFC in LE makes more that a 20 year Capt. at the DC. People will always go where the money is. Warden or no Warden, staffing levels will be as messed up in 20 years as they are today. The people that work at the HCDC love their job, and they are good at it. I wish they got what they deserved, but the scale will always be tipped into Law Enforcement’s favor.

    What can you do about that Jeff?

  7. Leon Burger says

    Hope you are not a Detective. I’m not Gahler. I’m probably someone you know. Sorry for the confusion.

    • Sam I am says

      I am not a detective. I am sorry you are confused. I am not addressing you the reader, I am addressing the author of this letter in a weblog that is attached to his article. Who knows, we may know each other, I’m well traveled and have many friends.

  8. Uncle Benny says

    This isn’t about just this story. What about treating your employees like a number but going on record and acting like you care. Yes you fired at least one for medical reasons and you covered up a sustained internal investigation that the corporal had against one of your hand picked majors. You did this because you can and you could not afford another scandal. Then you try to cover up or sugar coat numerous other things. Sheriff Bane and command staff, You make me sick and I am ashamed to work for you. I cant believe you continue to get away with this.

  9. Uncle Benny says

    Sam I am- I have my facts straight you are right there is alot of bad in that post. Anything you want to dispute? Its all the truth, oh and are you the same uncle sam that is friends with Sheriff Bane and walks with him during parades, or are you the Monster, or David, or the guy going for his legal degree or the cave man? just wondering! Thanks for your suppport in admitting there is alot of bad in my post please let me know what you disagree with.

  10. none says

    Every cell at the Harford County Detension Center should come equiped with a rope and a bucket. Just think of all the tax payer money that could be saved.

  11. Marc Eaton says

    Inmates have died in the past and will continue to die. The issue is that it takes two weeks to release the information because of privacy concerns for the family. Capt Swain tries to make a point that he did not die in custody. That is word play Capt Swain and I think the public can see that. This is just a small sample that sees the light of day under Sheriff Bane, can you imagine what we don’t see.
    Uncle Benny, many of us believe every word you said. Thanks for speaking out.

    • Mike Welsh says

      What has Mr. Gahler said that you believe is inaccurate? Exactly what has Mr. Gahler said that smears Sheriff Bane? Do you not believe there are problems at the Detention Center that need immediate attention?

    • DeputyDog says

      Unless you work here, you have no idea how bad things are. If Bane does not want to allow his name to be “smeared” maybe he should try acting with some integrity. Gahler keeps catching him in these deceptions and showing Bane’s ineptness and it doesn’t even look like he is trying too hard. Can you imagine what would it would look like if any news source like the Aegis or WBAL was actually trying or even following up on these issues. Bane has enjoyed a free pass for years that is hopefully getting ready to expire.

  12. Code 67 says

    During supervisor inservice two years ago the colonel and sheriff presented a class where they listed the accomplishments of past Sheriffs and commanders. My question is what have they done in 6 years? From County Stat that failed, to having promotional applicants read a book called “enlightened leadership which failed because the Sheriff and his commanders didnt follow the own leadership principles that they were preaching, to asking promotional applicants to know the mission statement but failing to uphold it yourself. Here it is Sheriff Bane you may want to practice it:

    With courage, honor, and integrity we protect the rights and dignity of all citizens. In partnership with our communities, we strive to preserve the peace and provide for a safe environment for all.


    With steadfastness and purpose of mind, we accept the responsibility of overcoming adversity to remain effective, efficient, and responsive to the needs of our communities.


    With distinction and pride, we protect the rights of all citizens equally.


    We are responsible for our conduct, both professionally and personally. We are honest, fair, and strong of character. We hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards of ethical conduct and endeavor to be role models for others.

    If your own people cant trust you and members of your command staff how do you expect the public to follow suit.

  13. Yup says

    A huge point that I think is being lost here is, how many reports of inmate attempted suicides/deaths are we hearing about from the surrounding areas? Yeah, it occasionally happens and it’s reported, but in all, we seem to hear about HCDC more often than not. I think that speaks volumes.

  14. Shepherd says

    Will the uninformed please follow the link. We hear about local in custody deaths because we are local. If you were local to AA county, you would hear about theirs. 38% of the inmate population are people with mental illness. Think about that. Correctional Deputies do not have a PHD, neither does the Sheriff. When a person is motivated on killing themselves, more often than not, they will succeed.

    In this instance a batterer check out. Men that beat women have power and control issues. Their last bit of control is to make a person feel guilty for their death. When you are done reading the corrections stats, google for stats on Batterer suicide rates.

    When you are informed, come back with logical arguments.