From Jeffrey R. Gahler:
Dear Harford County Readers,
Not very long ago, Sheriff Bane attempted to publically lay the foundation for additional personnel when he stated “I don’t have that number to police the county” and “explained that the number of sworn deputies working for the Sheriff’s Office does not translate to the number of feet on the street.” A detailed review of the justification for additional personnel provided by the Sheriff was found to be factually incorrect. Sheriff Bane acknowledged that my challenge was indeed correct. As I have stated in the past, and consistently believe, as the chief law enforcement officer for Harford County, Sheriff Bane’s duty to our citizens is to ensure that every “foot” in the Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to fighting crime and disorder in our streets.
As a candidate for Sheriff in 2010 and now an announced candidate for Sheriff in 2014, I believe the basic mission for any law enforcement agency is to prevent crime and disorder. To meet this mission, ensuring an adequate patrol force exists to meet the needs of Harford County’s citizens is key.
Sheriff Bane has now announced that he will expand his command staff by moving sworn deputies from operational elements to administrative elements through promotion. Sheriff Bane is currently expanding his command staff with a round of “at-will” promotions by adding a new major position and two additional captain positions to his staff while also creating a Legal Advisor position. The elevation of sworn deputies to previously nonexistent positions causes voids at the lower ranks. The addition, at the tax payer’s expense, of a Legal Advisor causes me to question motivation at a time when Sheriff Bane is being challenged by decisions he has made internally. Not to mention, the citizens of Harford County already bear the expense of an entire law department, where there is a county employed attorney dedicated to the needs of the Sheriff’s Office.
The citizens of Harford County deserve the most effective and efficient Sheriff’s office available. The approximate cost of these new positions to the taxpayer amounts to $330,000 based on the enacted FY2013 Harford County Budget. This does not take into consideration, future promotions required to fill essential vacancies or overtime payments to ensure proper staffing. I question Sheriff Bane’s motivation and further seek to understand why the sheriff, who again recently told Harford County citizens that he didn’t have enough deputies to do the job, is now converting three other deputy positions to civilian positions ensuring three fewer deputies to address the law enforcement needs of Harford County.
While the sheriff was making adjustments to his organizational chart, I question why he did not go further and either appoint or hire a warden for the jail. The dedicated staff at the detention center deserves better, the citizens of Harford County deserve more, and the safety of the inmates should be strongly considered . We just witnessed the death of the ninth inmate at this facility under Sheriff Bane’s personal self-proclaimed first hand watch (more to come on this soon). In truth, the absence of a warden has allowed the detention center to place Harford County in a precarious position in terms of safety, negative public and financial exposure.
Personnel moves and modifications must be made in a deliberate manner so as not to negatively impact the patrol force. With the election just months away, the motivation for these moves gives me great pause. I only hope that Sheriff Bane’s administrative actions were done for the greater good and his failure to address issues at the detention center does not allow for further deterioration of the conditions.
I would like to make it clear that I know the men who have been promoted and I certainly do not begrudge them the rightful advancement they are due. Had Sheriff Bane operated his office effectively and without partisanship from the outset most, if not all, of those promoted would have long ago achieved the ranks they now hold. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the commitment and dedication of the women and men of the Sheriff’s Office and I applaud the great work done every day.
Jeffrey R. Gahler