Eddie Hopkins is the chief of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company and commissioner for the Town of Bel Air, as well as, for now, its chairman, which is unofficially called the mayor. Starting Nov. 26, he will don yet another hat, one he's worn before: spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office.
Barring any problems with his background check, Hopkins has officially been hired to replace Monica Worrell as public information officer for the sheriff's office.
The 51-year-old lifelong Bel Air resident said Monday he is eager to rejoin the agency that he left in 2005 after 29 years as a sworn deputy.
He also said he is confident about being able to juggle all of his roles in the community, despite adding the highly demanding public relations position to his plate.
"I have always been able, for the last 15 to 20 years of my job, to manage different aspects," he said. "I am fairly comfortable with being able to balance [tasks]. I have done it for many, many years."
Hopkins noted the board of commissioners is set to vote on its new chairman sometime this month, which means he could rotate out of that role.
He also said he does not expect a conflict of interest between his job with the sheriff's office and the fire company or commissioner responsibilities.
Sheriff Jesse Bane, however, expressed some reservation.
"I had a long conversation with Eddie about that and Eddie understood that if a conflict of interest develops, the agency takes the priority," Bane said. "Right now, I am apprehensive about that."
"I think Eddie wanted to come back to the Harford County Sheriff's Office badly and I think Eddie will do anything to do that," he said. "The time may come when Eddie may have to make a decision as to what he has to do."
Bane also said he would not have hired Hopkins if he did not think he was the best person for the job, and he said Hopkins was one of a small number of applicants who met all the criteria of the position.
"He is very articulate. He and I get along well. He understands the mission of the agency," Bane said, calling the hiring choice "a no-brainer."
"The real issue is trying to find people who have PIO qualifications in the law enforcement arena," he said.
Bane noted the agency "was having difficulties trying to meet media obligations on a shoestring" budget since Worrell left Nov. 2.
The sheriff's office hopes to eventually add another person to help manage public relations, although Bane said he is not sure if that would be another full-time PIO position or something else.
"The county is big now and the demands on the agency are so great," he said, explaining Worrell was frequently "really stressed" by the pressures of the job.
"At some point, I am going to have to get serious about putting another person in there," he said.
Hopkins, who expects to earn about $67,000 or $68,000 in the new position, said part of the reason for his confidence is he trusts the administration for the town and the people he works with in the fire company.
"I have a great cadre of officers that support me," he said, adding he also has "a tremendously supportive staff, very highly-skilled staff," at town hall.
"I really don't see a conflict because, more often than not, issues can be handled over the phone... or there can be a quick meeting," Hopkins said. "While decisions need to be made quickly in many cases, unless decisions are life-threatening, there is usually time to wait on those decisions, time for people to meet."
At the end of the day, Hopkins said he looks forward to continuing to serve his community, more than anything else.
"I love working in the county. The money's not necessarily the issue," he said. "I have always had a love for the sheriff's office and public safety in general."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun