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Harford sheriff appoints new warden for 'no longer just a jail'

A new warden will soon oversee the complexities of the Harford County Detention Center in Bel Air, an institution Sheriff Jesse Bane says is "no longer just a jail."

Bane introduced Charles Moore, of the Maryland State Police, during Tuesday night's meeting of the Harford County Council.

With the hiring of Moore, the sheriff said he is changing the title of "jail administrator" to "warden" because "people don't seem to think there is a warden if you don't call him a warden."

"It created confusion when I said I am appointing a jail administrator," the sheriff said Wednesday, lashing out at one of the challengers in his current re-election bid, Jeff Gahler, for "attacking my people" and calling the jail poorly managed.

"He [Gahler] seems to have been successful in creating the perception that there is no leadership in the jail," Bane said, explaining every report has shown the jail is well-run and well-managed.

Bane said he is waiting for "the candidate, when they have absolutely no experience," to stand up and tell people how to run a jail. Bane, a Democrat, defeated Gahler in the general election four years ago. Gahler is one of two Republicans hoping to unseat Bane this fall. An independent candidate has also filed.

The position of jail administrator had been held by Tonya Jackson, who was moved to other managerial responsibilities at the detention center, according to Bane.

The detention center has not had a warden for two years, since Michael Capasso retired, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cristie Kahler said Wednesday.

The detention center holds about 400 inmates daily, employs 165 people and has an annual budget of nearly $16 million, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Moore, 47, formerly commander at the Maryland State Police Bel Air Barrack, will start working Aug. 1. His salary will be $117,000.

The appointment of Moore is the second major post Bane has filled in the Sheriff's Office in recent weeks. Last month he announced the appointment of Edward Hopkins as chief deputy. Hopkins, currently the agency's public information officer, will assume his new post on July 1 when Chief Deputy Col. Greg Carlevaro retires.

During their appearance before the county council, Bane said Moore will be taking over a detention center that has gone from incarcerating the "true criminal element" to being "a shelter for the homeless, a mental institution, a drug treatment center and a hospital for the treatment of a variety of physical illnesses and disabilities."

Bane, who has made similar comments in the past, noted those challenges are compounded by the jail's inability to be expanded on its present site and projections that the jail could reach capacity by 2020, despite a recent expansion.

With the State Police, Moore, a captain, was assigned executive officer of the Support Services Bureau/Police Communications Support Division and worked throughout the state.

"I am both humbled and honored to be selected by Sheriff Bane as the warden for the Harford County Detention Center," Moore said in a statement. "It is going to be very rewarding to focus all of my energy and skills to ensure that the Harford County Detention Center continues to remain a safe place to work and to be incarcerated. Just as in any new assignment during my career, I will thoroughly review the operational structure and ensure that refinements will be instituted, if needed."

Moore, who was raised in Harford County, holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Johns Hopkins University in leadership and management.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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