Photo courtesy of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office
Jeffrey Gahler was sworn in as Harford County’s next sheriff Monday night, promising to strengthen deputies’ ties to the community and take part in a renewed campaign against heroin use, while also announcing structural changes to the agency.
Gahler was sworn in before a crowd of more than 500 people at The John Carroll School’s auditorium, which consisted of representatives from a variety of regional police departments as well as dozens of his own deputies.
Earlier in the day, Gahler held a command meeting at the Harford County Detention Center, during which he outlined his plans to reduce the agency’s number of majors from five to three, and trim its number of bureaus from five to four.
At the evening event, Gahler’s full command staff was officially announced: Major Jack Simpson, a former Maryland State Police major, will oversee the Administrative Services Bureau; Major William Davis, most recently the assistant director of public safety at the Community College of Baltimore County, will head up the police operations bureau; and longtime Sheriff’s Office Deputy Major Michael Gullion will command the Correctional Services Bureau. Biographical information for each is presented below.
Gahler reiterated a previous promise to conduct a full review of the agency, and said he would next examine positions held by those at the rank of captain. The new sheriff said he intends to return a number of deputies holding non-law-enforcement roles back to active policing.
“Our goal moving forward will be to build on crime reduction, crime prevention, community partnerships and professional standards,” he said during his prepared remarks. “You do not deserve, and I will not accept, the status quo.”
In addition, Gahler said he will join forces with County Executive Barry Glassman, himself sworn in earlier in the day, and State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly to form a task force to combat a resurgence in the use of heroin in the county. Gahler said he was approached by Glassman to take part in the effort, with specific methods to come out of the task force’s initial meetings.
Gahler said he will also emphasize community policing in an effort to build bridges to the county’s residents, and use “data-driven” policing methods to target the worst offenders and areas most hard-hit by crime.
Joining Gahler on stage was a selection of local elected officials, judges, and police commanders from around the area. Also present were former Harford County Sheriffs William Kunkel, Joseph Meadows, and Thomas Golding.
Gahler defeated two-term incumbent Sheriff Jesse Bane, who was not present at the event, after losing a close election to Bane in 2010. Gahler noted his long road to his new office, and thanked his wife Sonya and their two daughters for their support.
“The campaign to bring us here was long, as most of you know, seven years long,” he said. “Throughout it all, and without fail they were there, and I’d like to thank them.”
Former Harford County Sheriffs Joseph Meadows, William Kunkel, and Thomas Golding stand with Jeffrey Gahler, who took office as the county’s next sheriff Monday.
From the Harford County Sheriff’s Office:
[December 1, 2014, Bel Air, MD] Tonight, in front of nearly 500 people, Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler officially took office as the Sheriff of the Harford County. Each part of the ceremony was carried out by a sworn member the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, representing all ranks.
Clerk of the Circuit Court, James Reilly, administered the Oath to Sheriff Gahler and all sworn members of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, with Sheriff Gahler’s family standing by his side.
During the Sheriff’s speech, he offered his thanks to everyone who helped him along his journey to become Sheriff, putting an emphasis on his family and friends. Sheriff Gahler also recognized the great men who held the office of Sheriff in prior years, saying “it is my hope that I can make each of these men proud, as I follow in the path they have forged.”
During his speech tonight, he rounded out the Command Staff when he named Major John (Jack) R. Simpson to the dministrative Services Bureau, Major William Davis to the Police Operations Bureau, and finally, Major Michael Gullion to the Correctional Services Bureau. Last month, he announced the first two key appointments to his Command Staff; Colonel Steven Bodway and Warden Michael Capasso. Each has extensive experience in law enforcement and corrections. Specifically:
Major John (Jack) R. Simpson – Administrative Services Bureau; Jack Simpson retired as a Major from the Maryland State Police serving for twenty-eight (28) years. As a command officer, he led the Criminal Investigation Division, the Special Operations Command, a Barrack, a Troop consisting of multiple Barracks and two Regions consisting of all Field Operations installations, which included tactical, patrol, investigations and Community Policing components. Major Simpson was the Assistant Chief for the Support Services Bureau which included Licensing and Regulatory components.
Major Simpson has a B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland University College and a M.S. in Management from Johns Hopkins University, graduating from their Police Executive Leadership Program. Prior to this appointment, Major Simpson served as the Executive Director of the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council and an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice for the University Of Maryland University College.
Major William Davis – Police Operations Bureau; William Davis most recently served as the Assistant Director of Public Safety for the Community College of Baltimore County. Prior to his appointment with the Community College of Baltimore County, he served as a Major in the Baltimore Police Department and Commanding Officer for the Southeastern District. In this position, Major Davis oversaw the daily police operations of more than 200 officers, sergeants, lieutenants and civilian personnel. His responsibilities included the development and deployment of crime prevention and response strategies as well as cultivating and sustaining solid partnerships with community and business leaders within the City of Baltimore.
Over the course of twenty-five (25) years with the Baltimore Police Department, Major Davis worked in a variety of roles, progressing from patrol assignments to criminal investigative positions. These included working on federal task forces and as the commanding officer of district detectives and operations units. Major Davis holds a MS in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and currently serves adjunct faculty in The Johns Hopkins University’s Division of Public Safety Leadership. Major Davis is also a recent graduate of the Police Executive Research Forum’s (PERF) Senior Management Institute for Police.
Major Michael Gullion – Correctional Service Bureau; Michael Gullion currently serves as the Support Services Commander at the Harford County Detention Center. During the course of his twenty-two (22) year career, he has served as Commander of two divisions within Corrections. As Operations Commander, he was responsible for 116 staff to include Security Operations, Gang Intel Unit, Correctional Response Team and K9 Unit. As Inter Agency Processing Center Commander, he supervised 45 staff members who were responsible for the processing, booking, release, and transportation of all inmates who are processed through the Harford County Detention Center. As Training Coordinator, he developed and coordinated the first Correctional Entrance Level Academy to proactively address the multitude of issues that face the Correctional staff on a daily basis.
In addressing the needs of inmates with mental illness, Major Gullion is a Crisis Intervention Team member and is currently serving as the security liaison for the Behavioral Health Unit in order to provide for a safe correctional environment for all. He has also served on numerous community organization advisory boards, which provides the community a proactive understanding of corrections in Harford County and provides a community corrections approach to the Harford County Detention Center. Major Gullion has completed both the Harford Leadership Academy and the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Center Leadership Challenge, and served as a mentor to other sessions.
Sheriff Gahler spoke of the changes and reduction of the number of Majors and Bureaus being a response to an initial assessment of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. He has directed that the number of Bureaus be reduced from five to four and that there be a reduction in the number of majors from five to three. This top to bottom review of the organizational structure of the Office of the Sheriff will better address emerging crime patterns and trends, reduce crime, and improve quality of life through citizen partnerships.
Sheriff Gahler will continue his assessment of the Office and efforts will be directed at reducing violent crimes and increasing the safety and security of our friends and neighbors. Sheriff Gahler assured the crowd saying, “The Sheriff’s Office is a productive and professional law enforcement organization that is dedicated to the community’s needs. Our goal moving forward will be to build on crime reduction, crime prevention, community partnerships and professional standards. You do not deserve, and I will not accept, the status quo.”
Sheriff Gahler closed the event by telling his deputies, “from my new commanders and I, we vow to ensure that the Harford County Sheriff’s Office is simply the finest organization that you always hoped it would be and a place that will inspire and instill confidence in you each and every day.”
Edgewood is now safer.
If we eliminate all of the rental properties it would be safer.
If you think Edgewood was the only problem in Harford County, you are sadly mistaken! Or you just came out from under a rock.
Get rid of the helicopter. Just a waster of money. Also, I am disappointed that Meadows showed up. He was a terrible sheriff and was kicked out of office. (Oh he resigned)
Where do I get a used pilots flight suit? We are taxed and taxed and this helicopter was a bad idea. Just another way to get “in crowd” jobs and keep them in it. I believe in officer safety, but really?
Meadows showing was quite a blemish on the new Sheriff. That was actually very disappointing. Meadows “resigned” (under pressure) – he was a terrible representative of that office and he also sallied the reputation of that office with the actions that he committed while in office. I think most people know what I am talking about. It is disgusting that this man was allowed to attend these proceedings and then was right there being photographed with the new sheriff. I certainly hope that this is not a sign of the future to come for that new representative of this Office. I thought highly of Gahler – I actually did my research – and voted for him, but this made me sick to my stomach and gave me a feeling of – there we go again – the good ol boys are back.
Rat Meadows – nickname from EHS days – did a lot of good for the department – sure he screwed up – but that’s life.
Informed Voter says
What a wonderful evening last night for Sheriff Gahler! The energy in the room was palpable. I lost count as to how many standing ovations he received over the course of the evening. The officer that hosted the event kept things going and infused just the right amount of humor. The Sheriff was so gracious and appreciative. I had the opportunity to briefly meet his wife and daughters. They were absolutely fantastic and just so proud of him. At one point he got a little choked up when speaking about how much they have supported him throughout his 7-year campaign. It was really touching!
Congratulations Sheriff Gahler and thank you for being the change we needed!
Congratulations Sheriff Gahler. The citizens of Harford County have put their trust in you to make changes in the HCSO for the betterment of the agency and employees. Your event last night was indeed an outstanding gathering and enjoyable evening. I wish you nothing but success.
Corporal Craig, please get over yourself!
Informed Voter says
Hate to burst your bubble, but I’m not Corporal Craig. I’m a civilian that was in attendance last night. You shouldn’t go around making assumptions. I don’t know what your problem with the host is, but you need to get over it and take your negative BS elsewhere. Way to put a damper on all the other positive things you said about the evening. He did a great job.
You are the one making assumptions that I think you are Corporal Craig. The message was to Corporal Craig. You, however, are certainly entitled to your opinion as we all are.
Informed Voter says
Well clearly you should not have replied to my post then, you should have created your own! If you have such a problem with Corporal Craig, perhaps you should email him directly instead of leaving haphazard commentary here that he probably will not see.
vietnam vet says
Actions speak louder then words. It’s obvious he is shakeing up command. It could be reduced even further the voters are watching.
Truth Detector says
While everyone is gaga over the swearing in ceremonies, let’s take a look at day one in office because I have read a few things that make me sick already. The new Sheriff stated during the campaign that the office has great people. Yet on day one, he appoints a retired Baltimore City Major previously involved in the Baltimore Orioles ticket scalping scandal that almost cost him his job (according to a BPD officer who worked with him for over 30 years). Then, he appoints a retired Maryland State Police Major who lives in Anne Arundel county the last time I checked. Oh yeah, we have one Deputy Major from inside and a retread in Lt. Colonel Steven Bodway. Is this what we were hearing during the campaign? There wasn’t ANY internal Lieutenants or Captains eligible for at least one or two of these positions? Not one? Or, is this the status quo the new Sheriff preaches about and it came down to politics, which by the way he vowed to eliminate? For anyone serving one day in law enforcement, this type of leadership leads to a very disgruntled staff. What do you tell the internal Lieutenants and Captains who have served their entire careers in the Sheriff’s Office why they didn’t get promoted and given the opportunity? What a disappointing day one for me. If this is what we are to expect over the next four years, we the voters have been bamboozled. I understand forming your own command staff, but this is over the top. People from out of county is definitely not what I expected to hear. I don’t know Mr. Simpson personally, but this is not the state police. This is the Sheriff’s Office where I live, not where he lives. Bad start my man, and this is coming from a supporter. Still wishing for the best because I live here, but this voter is beyond disappointed with the “first moves”.
Bane lite. Harfford county gets what it deserves.
Union Member says
We have many deputies who reside out of county. Are you suggesting that those folks should not receive the same consideration for advancement that those who reside in the county receive?
Give the new Sheriff time to evaluate the capabilities and performance of the Captains who are members of the HCSO. You may well be surprised, pleasantly in hope, at the changes that occur down the road within a year.
Discount Dooooooooooble Check says
Truth Detector: The reason those in attendance at Sheriff Gahler’s swearing-in were “gaga” is because they were desperate for change. The ovations and cheers were the voices of HOPE that the agency will again be restored to what it once was before Bane destroyed it. As far as the majors, they were Bane’s puppets, none of them capable of performing the duties of their position, except for Meckley and he will be tied up at Bel Air PD for a while. Sheriff Gahler also showed his honor and virtue when thanking Bane publicly. Bane on the other hand didn’t even say goodbye to his employees that he so valued, as put forth in his letter to the Aegis. If he valued them so much, he couldn’t take the time to compose a 2 minute email to the troops? But he had time to attempt to maintain his good standing in the community by writing to the Aegis. What, no letter to The Dagger? Too late, Jessie, your reputation is forever tarnished. Good Luck Sheriff Gahler and to the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office.
bags packed says
So what has happened to the all important Majors that walked around like they owned the agency? I am gonna give Gahler time to get his people in place. He needed to bring in new people. The old ones were acting like the agency owed them something. It’s time to start getting all those deputies out of their chairs and onto the road. Just cause you cut Majors, don’t mean that the people get to stay in positions FOR THEIR CAREER. Where is the fairness.
Union Member says
Many more changes to come. They will occur within the next 4 to 6 weeks. It’s time for some of our deputies to get off their behinds and get back to work. Some will not like it and will probably retire.
Carmine Diaz R. says
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,…let the whining begin! Deputies whine more than teachers.
Nick Paros says
I find some of these comments incredible. Let’s give Jeff the chance to get going. I have no idea what is happening within the Sheriff’s Office, but I do know some of the people that were named in a previous post. I do know jack Simpson and have known him for over 20 years personally. He is one of the most competent police administrators I know. He will serve Harford County well. Bill Davis I met a few times when he was a Deputy major in Baltimore City. He seemed very capable when issues were raised. It’s obvious that whatever happened with a ticket scalping was a one time and isolated incident, if it happened at all. Sounds like sour grapes to me. The others are Jeff’s internal choices and he has every right to make the changes he believes are best. Everyone should sit back and see what happens. I think everyone will appreciate the efforts. Best of luck to all of them.
Major (ret) Nick Paros
Maryland State Police
Thanks Nick. We want to give him a chance and hope he is better then the previous sheriff’s. It’s a matter of not playing the good ole boy network. It’s a hard enough job without having to fit from within. So far, he has done a good job about appointing people. the people who want from within are the same people who would tell Bane, Yes Sir and how nice you look. These were the same people that would sell their mother down the road for a promotion and it gets old. Don’t know any of the new majors, but hope the come in and don’t start playing favorites. There is going to be some choices made that will seem unfair, but not everyone will be happy. So lets give them a chance. What is your opinion on the helicopter?
Thanks Nick. We want to give him a chance and hope he is better then the previous sheriff’s. It’s a matter of not playing the good ole boy network. It’s a hard enough job without having to fit from within. So far, he has done a good job about appointing people. the people who want from within are the same people who would tell Bane, Yes Sir and how nice you look. These were the same people that would sell their mother down the road for a promotion and it gets old. Don’t know any of the new majors, but hope the come in and don’t start playing favorites. There is going to be some choices made that will seem unfair, but not everyone will be happy. So lets give them a chance.
Nick Paros says
The helicopter was a campaign promise that he will eliminate the program. If I were advising Jeff, I would seriously reconsider. Until you are the parent of a lost child and a heat seeker locates your 5 year old next to the river, you have a hard time understanding how valuable aviation is to law enforcement. The MSP aviation has a first priority to medevac, so many times they are not available for “other law enforcement functions”. For the cost of staff and maintenance, it might be worth reconsideration. That’s the way I see it. The allegiance to the sitting Sherriff will always happen, and we had people in the MSP who would never say anything the Superintendent didn’t want to hear. Sad, but these people exist in every department. But, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be given the opportunity to conform to the new way of doing business. But, that’s why we elect a Sheriff so he/she can run things the way they see fit. If the people don’t like it, it can change again in 4 years. I hope not, but that is the check and balance we have in place.
Mike Welsh says
As I recall, Gahler stated that had he been Sheriff he would not have acquired the helicopter as there were other more pressing priorities within the HCSO at the time the helicopter was acquired. Gahler went further to say during the campaign that since the helicopter was already on board, he would give it one year under his administration to evaluate the effectiveness (both operationally and cost) before he made any decision to keep or deactivate the aviation unit.
Having an aviation asset is always a great tool for LE to have available. However, when many budget issues are facing the HCSO, the cost of maintaining such a unit must be weighed against the return on investment.
I would agree with you on the helicopter. I would want my child to be found or officer safety be the in the forefront. One of the problems with having someone elected from outside the agency is that person is perceived to bring their agencies policies with them. Bane tried to say, “You know what you got with me, but you don’t know what you have with the other guy”. There is the saying that Gahler would change the agency to fit the state police model. He seems to have made the right choices, so far, but hope he takes the agency to a better place. Harford County deserves a department that can be inclusive instead of exclusive or a good old boy network. I thank you for making the comments about Gahler. State Troopers are people who have families, bills, friends and so are the deputies of the great county. How many people would run towards gun fire or run towards a fight…..these are the men and women of public safety.
Union Member says
Bane did in fact say that with him you knew what you were getting. What he didn’t understand was that voters were tired of what he stood for, not to mention a vast majority of the employees within the HCSO. Knowing what we would get if Bane was re-elected was his downfall.
Do your homework says
I am sure that Sheriff Gahler is a well intended individual with the best interest of both the officers and the citizenry in mind. He will make every effort to make good appointments. With that in mind he should thoroughly investigate the backgrounds of his would be promotions and appointments. Hypothetically, It would be very embarrassing to the agency and Sheriff himself if he found out that one of his commanders had a past history of fraternizing with felony inmates they might have met in the jail to include escorting them to Baltimore City night clubs. Of course this is just a hypothetical situation.
missed that class says
Is this the same as Deer Creek? I knew I should have went to all my classes…….LOL
Please get rid of the damned helicopter. It sbsolutely ruined the parade today with all the noise it generated just hovering over the parade. And please don’t tell me it was for security. The parade has been just fine for 50 years and no terrorist group gives a crap about the bel air christmas parade. If they are that worried, park it on the ground at bel air high.
Kenneth Pittman says
Sheriff Gahler displayed unnecessary poor judgement in his selection of Mr. Davis for any position with the HCSO. Mr. Davis skirted criminal charges while a Sergeant with the Baltimore City Police Department by informing on his subordinates who were participating in a criminal activity along with himself. Why even go there Sheriff. I can’t imagine any reason to bring this man with such a tainted background on board. As Sheriff you have every right to assemble your own team but this addition displays outlandishly poor judgement. Mr. Davis somehow climbed through the ranks of a troubled agency while Detectives he sold out were fired or forced to resigned. This selection shows poor judgement, just hope he doesn’t do what he did to his friends to you.