A Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County sheriff said Tuesday she will instruct her campaign volunteers to stop telling voters that one of her opponents was recently demoted at his job in the county Police Department.
Beth Smith, a retired lieutenant from the sheriff’s office, said she stop a series of phone calls on her behalf in which volunteers said county police Lt. Jim Fredericks had been “recently demoted.”
She agreed to make the change after The Capital approached her with a voicemail left by someone who identified themselves as a volunteer. Fredericks sent the voicemail to The Capital, saying he’d received it from an Odenton resident.
In a phone conversation Tuesday, Smith said that “it’s possible” that she used the word “demotion” in talking with her volunteer and campaign staff.
“I do not want the citizens of Anne Arundel County to be misled in any way by anything said by me,” she said.
Fredericks was transferred in October from his role as a commander in the Criminal Investigation Division to a patrol commander the Northern District.
A department said this did not constitute a demotion, as Fredericks kept his rank as a lieutenant.
“(Police Chief Timothy Altomare) often makes routine moves like these multiple times throughout the year to meet the need of the department,” spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure wrote in an email.
“The interdepartmental transfer was simply a movement of management resources and not disciplinary.”
In the voicemail, a woman named “Melania” encouraged the recipient of the call to vote for Smith instead of “disgraced Sheriff Ron Bateman and recently demoted police officer Jim Fredericks.”
Fredericks took Smith to task, saying “that’s just a flat-out lie” and that Smith “knows better” as a former law enforcement officer.
“For me, for the times that I’ve transferred in the past, I’ve never been transferred for disciplinary reasons,” Fredericks said.
In a follow-up email Wednesday morning, Smith called on Fredericks to release his personnel file saying she still has questions about his transfer.
Fredericks detailed his responsibilities at the Criminal Investigation Division as one where he investigated organized crime and handled matters of homeland security.
He said that while being a patrol commander differs significantly from being an organized crime investigator, the duties themselves are still emblematic of someone who has retained their lieutenant rank. He said he’s tasked with making “split-second command decisions,” such as where to station live patrols and how to allocate resources on the ground during active investigations.
Smith ultimately called on Fredericks to ask the department to release his personnel file “or at the very least, this particular portion of his personnel file” in regards to the transfer.
Fredericks said “it would be OK for the police department to release any show of disciplinary action” related to the transfer, “because I know there isn’t one.”