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Jerry Barnes: Continue to keep Carroll safe

It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve you, the citizens of Carroll County, as your elected State's Attorney since 1994. During my 36 years as a prosecutor and 20 years in office, not only have I successfully prosecuted thousands of criminals, but I have also worked diligently to build close relationships with our state and local law enforcement agencies. As a result of our efforts, Carroll County has been Maryland's safest county every year since 2006 according to FBI crime statistics. Preliminary data for 2013 suggests that last year may have been our best year ever. I believe that there is no greater place to live, and I would know - my working class family has lived in Carroll County for five generations.

But just because we live in Maryland's safest county doesn't mean we can stop progressing. Illegal drug use continues to be an issue throughout America, and Carroll County is no exception to that national trend. Theft will continue to be a problem as long as there are drug users who need to support their habits. If reelected, I pledge to continue the policies that we've developed over the years that have worked so well for our county. I will work to maintain Carroll County's status as Maryland's safest county by continuing to work with law enforcement and other agencies to fight illegal drug use. This includes supporting diversion programs for young and first-time offenders as well as treatment programs for those who are amenable to change. With equal determination, I will continue to seek maximum sentences for drug dealers bringing drugs into our county and other violent criminals.

Drugged driving is also a problem that I will continue to address with every resource available. Carroll County is at a disadvantage because our police officers are not permitted to use the Maryland State Police's Drug Recognition Expert ("DRE") protocol to arrest drugged drivers. This resulted when my opponent and other criminal defense attorneys launched an attack on law enforcement in 2010, convincing a Circuit Court judge to rule that DRE testimony is inadmissible in our county's courts. As a result, Carroll County is the only county in Maryland where this law enforcement tool has been taken away. For the two years following this ruling against law enforcement, representatives from my office testified before the state legislature to have the DRE protocol restored. This issue is currently on appeal before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, and we anticipate the restoration of the DRE protocol by that court. In any event, I will not rest until the DRE protocol is restored in Carroll County. In the meantime, my office continues to seek innovative ways to successfully prosecute drugged drivers, getting these people off our roads.

As a war veteran and Green Beret, I will continue to support the 2nd Amendment rights of our law abiding citizens while keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals. I will continue my policy of carefully and personally reviewing all firearms cases to ensure that we are aggressively prosecuting only true criminals. And I will continue to protect our next generation of citizens by expanding school safety initiatives and advocating firearms safety and accident avoidance training through programs such as the NRA's 'Eddie Eagle' Program.

Additionally, my office will continue its tradition of deep commitment to crime victims. I recognize that when you are the victim of a crime, it doesn't matter that Carroll is a safe county - even one crime is one-too-many. I remain committed to crime victims, making sure that they are treated with respect and dignity while working diligently to bring perpetrators to justice.

Experience is the most important quality for a state's attorney to be successful. Not experience defending criminals, but experience prosecuting thousands of them. I have that experience, 36 years of it. Although we've made a difference by working in partnership with law enforcement to make our county Maryland's safest for 7 years in a row, we all know that our job is never done. I look forward to working with you for four more years to make sure Carroll County remains a safe and secure place to live, work and play.

Editor's note: All introductory columns appear exactly as they were received from the candidate.

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