Carroll County's new leaders share more than priority of public safety [Eagle Archives]

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office has been a whirlwind of activity since Jim DeWees took office on Dec. 2 as the county's 58th sheriff.

DeWees, a retired Maryland State Police captain, takes charge during a time of great changes in law enforcement.


This comes as law enforcement officers find themselves under heightened scrutiny — and danger — these days.

Among the many new approaches initiated recently is a long overdue initiative to equalize the due process, retirement and compensation disparities between the sheriff's deputies who work the county roads in a law enforcement and investigative capacity with that of the men and women who work as correctional officers in the county detention facility.

Just days after the sheriff's office made that announcement, the office announced the appointment of an additional investigator to the county's drug task force to address the community's growing alarm regarding the abuse of prescription drugs and heroin.

DeWees has also been working closely with the county's new state's attorney, Brian DeLeonardo, in a number of areas including the recent announcement of heightening the coordination between prosecutors and local police officers and deputies who work the streets.

The two men have more in common than leading public safety. Both are the sons of men who served in the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s and both emphasized their fathers in their respective oath of office ceremonies.

Such a close working relationship between the sheriff and the state's attorney has not always been the case. Tensions between the two law enforcement offices erupted on to the front page of the July 16, 1926 edition of the Carroll County newspaper, the American Sentinel.

According to research for the Historical Society of Carroll County by historian Jay Graybeal, "Editor Joseph D. Brooks felt that the State's Attorney had assumed too many of the Sheriff's duties to the detriment of local law and order…"

The degree of animosity between the sheriff and the state's attorney was subject of oral tradition in town generations later in the 1950s.

Many will argue the the tension lingered until November 1962, when a Western Maryland College graduate, and former Washington Redskins football player, H. LeRoy "Monk" Campbell, was elected the 54th sheriff of Carroll County. Over the next 20 years, Campbell never lost an election, serving until 1982.

After Campbell died on Jan. 3, 2007, then-Sheriff Ken Tregoning was quoted in this column that Campbell had been elected, "During a time when law enforcement was changing nationwide…"

Two of the concerns at that time were the threat of increases in crime and the scope of law enforcement in the county.

Today, folks in the community have noticed, and appreciated, how most of the new officials in the county commissioners' office, the board of education, the sheriff's office and the state's attorney's office appear to work well together.