From Christopher Boardman, candidate for Harford County Sheriff:
When I first contemplated running for Sheriff of Harford County, one of the first things that occurred to me and to others was why I thought I could do this job when I’d never before been a policeman or sworn law enforcement official. That is a legitimate question, and it deserves a good answer.
First of all, Harford needs a good sheriff, something the county does currently not have. The incumbent has been more interested in getting a good pay raise for himself before he even settled the long-festering problem of adequate compensation for the deputies who have waited for years. The question of gun violence is one that I have long argued in The Dagger and other publications. Sheriff Gahler made a sarcastic proposal without any sincerity that if we had a gun buyback program it would be something that I would have to pay for with my own funds; I do appreciate that he has overestimated my personal wealth, but his proposal was not serious and he is not interested in finding ways to make Harford County safer. I forwarded him some links to contacts in Australia who were involved with solving their gun violence problem and offered to come in and talk to him. But he is not interested in this.
He would rather be promoting gun sales and raffles for semi-automatic weapons. He also fashions himself as a super-politician interested in acquiring power on the state and federal levels rather than tend details in a county jurisdiction. So it is clear Harford needs a new and better sheriff.
In the late 1970’s I got a job as editor for a statewide newspaper called The Police News. I traveled all over the Maryland and interviewed police and sheriff officials from all the jurisdictions and wrote articles how the different departments did their work. I learned a lot about police and sheriff work in that job.
Then when I was in Harford County I talked to Gary Fulker, a deputy then whose father Raymond Fulker was a previous sheriff. He told me about a ten-year-old murder case solved by Deputy Sergeant William “Bill” Van Horn, nicknamed “The Bulldog” because he wouldn’t give up when maybe others did.
I spent a lot of time researching that case, reviewing court transcripts and records and writing the article. I sent the article to the New York offices of The Official Detective Group of Magazines, the publisher of six true crime detective magazines. The article languished on their slush pile for several months. But when their editors finally looked it over they loved it and ranked it as one of their cover stories.
Next, the editors wanted me to write a profile of Sgt. Van Horn as Master Detective Magazine’s National Police Officer of the Month. I was glad to be a part of this effort to honor one of Harford County’s finest, and Sheriff Bill Kunkel and I presented Sgt. Van Horn with the magazine’s certificate of recognition.
From there I went on and wrote regularly for the Official Detective Group and a rival magazine publisher, Globe Publishing in Montreal, Canada.
In all I published 450 true crime articles about homicide investigations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, District of Columbia, New Jersey and Virginia over a period of nearly 20 years. I researched cases in big city departments such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wilmington, Richmond and Washington D.C., and in many rural areas such as southwestern Virginia, the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania and the rural Eastern Shore. Many articles were reprinted in Zebra Books’ true crime collections and more recently I published my own collections of true crime titled Crimes of Passion, Kinky Killers and Cold Cases.
If anyone is interested in any of these titles they should contact me and at a small price they will be made available.
I learned a lot about the criminal justice system, including the courts, during this career. Not only how criminal cases are handled in different places in the mid-Atlantic area, I also got to know a lot of accomplished and interesting people. This is experience that I bring to the job.
But that’s not all. In the early 1980’s a new program established by NASA, NOAA and agencies from the British French and Soviet governments was established to find victims of small airplane crashes and maritime accidents. Only a few years earlier the U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs and Alaska Congressmen Nick Begich were lost during a small airplane flight in Alaska. Their bodies and airplane were never recovered and the U.S. Air Force and state and local authorities spent millions of dollars in their fruitless search. These agencies devised a program by which satellites could monitor beacons on the airplanes, boats and ships that could carry them.
Because I wanted to help and was very interested this program, I wrote a series of articles about this program to help people in commercial fishing, boating, private aviation, marine shipping and other sectors understand and coordinate with this new system. SARSAT-COSPAS as the program was named has saved thousands and thousands of lives by assisting search and rescue authorities locate and rescue people in the U.S. and throughout the world. One of my proudest achievements was when an article I wrote for SAIL Magazine was reprinted in RESPONSE!, the magazine published for search and rescue authorities. This helped sheriffs in remote counties in the U.S., the Coast Guard and aviation authorities work within the system. I have been very supportive of people working in search and rescue as have the originators of this program from the various governments involved.
Being a freelance writer has not been a great income and I had to find another way of making a living. I went back to school for five years and became a registered nurse. For 21 years I have worked in various hospitals, but for the past eight years I have worked in the downtown Maryland prison infirmary where the inmates are prisoners. This has been a good job for me because it has given me valuable experience working in the correctional system where a sheriff must be knowledgeable, and it also dovetails with much of my time writing about criminal justice. My experience also includes some work at the Harford County Detention Center medical unit.
My experience as a nurse is also valuable because I have worked with people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, gunshot violence and mental health issues. The current opioid crisis is one that calls on responders to have wide experience. My work as nurse is valuable because county jails are repositories of offenders with many medical and psychiatric problems.
Some negative comments have been made about me as “an old guy.” It’s true I’m not as young as I used to be, and I’m not as physically active as before. But I’m selling knowledge and experience. I don’t have to leap over fences and dash 100 yards to make an arrest. There are plenty of others who can do that better than me. But there are some things that I do a lot better than others that will help me be a very good sheriff.
Christopher “Krist” Boardman