Tyler Dailey, the son of Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey, who was killed in the line of duty last year, wrote his name into the history of the Harford County Sheriff's Office on Thursday as the agency's first police cadet.
Dailey and Deputy First Class Mark Logsdon were killed on the job on Feb. 10, 2016.
Tyler Dailey begins his new career Monday.
"On the day of Feb. 10, I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be a deputy, with the Sheriff's Office. I knew my family knew that. That's all I wanted to do," Dailey, 19, said Thursday when he formally accepted an employment offer from Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler at the Sheriff's Office headquarters on Main Street in Bel Air. "Once I set my mind to something, I'm going to do it. This is what I want to do and this is what I'm going to do."
He signed a brand new log book that will keep the name of every Sheriff's Office cadet, similar to the book signed by every deputy hired. He was also given his personnel order to report to the southern precinct Monday morning, where he will work under the supervision of Capt. Donald Gividen.
"I just wanted to say how much of an honor it is to be able to be the first cadet with Harford County Sheriff's Office. Like I said at my dad's funeral, I said I'm going to be just like my dad and this is where I can start. It's an honor to carry on the Dailey name in the Sheriff's Office. Words can't express how excited I am," he said.
The cadet program, discussed for a number of years, is designed to cultivate students interested in law enforcement in Harford County.
How it came about
Like other law enforcement agencies nationwide, the Sheriff's Office is facing low recruitment numbers. In Harford, correctional officers can begin working for the agency at 18. But until the cadet program, the county did not have a law enforcement option, Gahler said.
"So people interested in a law enforcement career are often lost to us to other agencies who do offer cadet programs," he said.
Men and women who want to become law enforcement officers must be 21 by the time they finish the training academy so they can start at 20 1/2 years old.
Two of this year's graduates of the homeland security magnet program at Joppatowne High School became Baltimore City and Baltimore County Police cadets.
"We had several mentors involved in that program and it just struck me, that there we are, mentoring these individuals into the path of public safety and law enforcement, and yet they're going elsewhere because we don't offer other options," Gahler said.
A Sheriff's Office Explorer also recently became a Maryland State Police cadet.
The "straw that broke the camel's back," however, Gahler said, was that Dailey was thinking of going elsewhere.
"Tyler was considering following the path into Baltimore County Police, [but] he wanted to wear this uniform ... that his father wore for 30 years. And we didn't offer that pathway," Gahler said.
"He looks great in this uniform. It would have broken my heart to see him in something other than this," Gahler said, choking back tears. "So obviously I'm very pleased."
Dailey was hand-picked for the position, which Gahler said was "his to win," if he passed the same application process any other civilian employee has to pass, as well as a physical fitness test.
Dailey, and all other cadets who follow, will get an inside look at the Sheriff's Office and get a better feel for if it's what they really want to do, Gahler said. Gahler became a Maryland State Police cadet at 19, he said.
A firefighter with Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, Dailey began there as a cadet at age 12. He was 16 when he finally started riding fire trucks.
"I got so much experience from that program, even being around the firehouse," Dailey said. "And this being around the Sheriff's Office, that's what I hope to gain is all this experience to help me out when I go out on the road."
Dailey's family as well as members of DFC Logsdon's family were at his signing ceremony Thursday.
His mother, Robyn Harrington, is a dispatcher at the 911 Center, and very likely will one day be dispatching calls to her son.
"In the back of my mind, yes I'm worried, scared; but I am so proud of him, this is what he wants to do and he's worked so hard to get here, that overrides my fears," Harrington said. "You just have to let it go. You can't let fear dictate your life because it will paralyze you. You just have to go on and support him."
Her late husband, she said, is "beaming."
"I know he's beaming, ear to ear. In my heart, he is going to watch over him. He is so proud of him, as the rest of the family is. He's smiling," she said.
To her son, she said: "I'm just so very proud of you, Tyler. I love you and be safe."
Roles and responsibilities
Dailey will be what Gahler called a "utility player" at the southern precinct, doing a lot of the daily work deputies have to do, like moving the mail to the headquarters in Bel Air or shuffling cars around for service.
"All the stuff we don't need to take a cop with a badge and a gun off the road when we have a cadet that can do those sort of more basic functions and keep a cop on the road," Gahler said.
He will also work at Sheriff's Office special community events, including the upcoming Harford County Farm Fair, which will demand more manpower this year since it has expanded to six days from four.
As he performs those duties, others will be added.
"Those other duties as assigned will grow as we figure this out," the sheriff said, adding the agency hopefully adds more cadets as the budget allows.
Dailey will earn $14.72 per hour, the startingpay on the civilian scale, Gahler said.
The sheriff said his hope is to have four cadets at a time, one each at the northern precinct, southern precinct, headquarters and specialized units.
"As much as we have the need, I want him and future cadets we have to have a well-rounded law enforcement experience and understanding," Gahler said.
Dailey said there's no chance he won't want to become a deputy.
"I see law enforcement as all about keeping your communitysafe, and making it a better place to live. There's alwayscrime, there's always something new, always something that people are doing that's wrong. There needs to be people there to stop that. And that's what I want to do," he said.