From Harford County Sheriff Gahler:
During last year’s election, Aaron Penman was elected as the new Councilman for Harford County District “B.” In light of his successful election and the language in the Harford County Charter excluding Council members from holding employment in the “Government of the State, Harford County or any municipality within Harford County,” Penman separated from the Sheriff’s Office. This separation was only after being informed that he could not stay a member of the Sheriff’s Office and serve as an elected councilman.
Also newly elected last year, Councilman Jacob Bennett, a teacher, challenged this wording in the Charter. In their decision on April 5, 2023, the Maryland Supreme Court made it very clear that Bennett’s employment as a member of Harford County Public Schools is not prohibited as the Public Schools are not a County or State agency.
Sheriff Gahler has awaited the Court’s full written opinion on this case as it relates to Penman’s separation. The written opinion by the Maryland Supreme Court was released on August 30. A thorough review of the opinion by Sheriff Gahler and the Sheriff’s Office’s Legal Affairs Section, makes it clear that Penman received guidance not consistent with the Court’s decision and his premature separation from the Agency was not required as the Sheriff’s Office is also neither a State or County agency.
Sheriff Gahler has also consulted with the Assistant Attorney General assigned to represent Maryland Sheriffs who has also thoroughly reviewed the Court’s Opinion and has advised he sees no legal impediment to the rehiring. Mr. Penman has also had the Court’s decision reviewed by legal counsel and has received the same opinion that considering the Court’s findings, Mr. Penman is not prohibited from returning to the Sheriff’s Office in a sworn position.
“Acting in accordance with the Maryland Supreme Court’s decision, I am pleased to announce the rehiring of Penman rehired effective the beginning of the next pay period at his previous rank of Sergeant. As his separation has only been for 11 months, Penman is eligible for reinstatement as a certified police officer by the Maryland Police Training Commission and remains certified as a polygraph examiner.
The taxpayers of Harford County have invested greatly in Sgt. Penman over the course of his career and returning his experience and skills to the Sheriff’s Office’s ranks is a benefit to public safety in our County.”