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Carroll County sheriff candidates discuss state of relationship between law enforcement agencies

In 2012, charges against Russell Laderer and Cassandra Glover in the 2010 stabbing death of Jeremiah DeMario in Hampstead were dropped after a judge ruled that much of the state's evidence was inadmissible.

The Carroll County State's Attorney's Office cited missteps by the Carroll County Sheriff's Office in the investigation when dropping the charges.

A major in the Sheriff's Office pleaded guilty to charges of misconduct in January 2013 for falsifying testimony under oath as a part of the investigation and the deputy chief state's attorney at the time of the prosecution was fired.

In the primary election June 24, three candidates will vie for election as the Republican candidate for Carroll County Sheriff to replace retiring Sheriff Ken Tregoning. One Democratic candidate is unopposed in the primary.

The Republican candidates are Jim DeWees, Chris Fiora and Phillip Kasten. The Democratic candidate is Vince Pacelli.

We asked the candidates: How do you view the current relationships between the Sheriff's Office, other law enforcement agencies and the State's Attorney's Office, and what can be done to improve on these relationships to effectively fight crime from arrest to trial?

DeWees: The relationship between the sheriff's office and state's attorney's office has been a public battle and has deteriorated the trust of our citizens and other law enforcement agencies. Because of this strained relationship, allied police agencies in the county are operating independently and rarely seek the assistance of these two elected law enforcement officials. Poor communication between the two offices has resulted in a decrease in the effectiveness of overall law enforcement in the county. Municipal police agencies cannot efficiently address issues in their area. The current leadership in the sheriff's office has not and cannot bring law enforcement together in order to combat the prevailing crime issues. True geographic districting of the sheriff's office needs to take place. Dividing into north, south and central districts, commanders of each district will monitor their area of responsibility and forge cooperative relationships with allied law enforcement agencies including the state's attorney's office.

Fiora: I believe the current relationship between the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and other related law enforcement agencies is fractured. Further, I believe this environment is in large part the responsibility and reflective of the lack of leadership from my opponents in their respective command roles in the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police. Under my leadership, I will mend the divides between the Sheriff's Office, other law enforcement agencies, and the State's Attorney's Office. For my part, as the Sheriff I will make personal visits to these other agencies to show my willingness to cooperate, help initiate and mediate discussions between parties and pursue common ground that benefits all agencies and gives all Carroll citizens the greatest level of safety and service. In doing so, I will respect the natural boundaries between agencies so that one does not infringe upon another.

Kasten: The relationship between the Sheriff's Office, State's Attorney's Office and the County's other policing partners is highlighted by several significant accomplishments, including the grant-funded purchase of computer hardware and software for multiple agencies, the provision of investigative support, joint arrests and prosecutions, recruitment and hiring assistance, several joint training initiatives, and the combined staffing of countless special events, special investigative units, and enforcement initiatives. Still, there is always room for improvement, particularly with information sharing. Hiring the County's first Crime Analyst in the coming weeks will accelerate the identification of trends, development of criminal suspects or repeat offenders, and coordinating the timely sharing of this information across all agencies. Similarly, the continued development of next generation records management and mobile technologies will be necessary increasing information access between dispatchers, first responders, investigators, prosecutors and correctional staff across all agencies.

Pacelli: Critical to the success of any law enforcement agency is communication. At the current time, I believe the relationship between the Sheriff's Office and our municipal police agencies is adequate; however, there is room for improvement. With regard to the State's Attorney's Office, I plan on putting in place a liaison officer that will act as a bridge between the two organizations. The liaison officer will work with both agencies as it pertains to criminal investigations and trial preparation. As commander of the Baltimore Police Department's District Detective Section, one of my roles was as liaison with those States's Attorney's prosecuting non-fatal shooting cases. I was credited with improved case preparation, which led to an increase in convictions.

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