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.”