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Cpl. David McDougall, a supervisor with the Harford County Narcotics Task Force, will receive the National Sheriff's Association's Charles "Bud" Meeks Award - Deputy Sheriff of the Year for Merit at a ceremony Monday.
Cpl. David McDougall, a supervisor with the Harford County Narcotics Task Force, will receive the National Sheriff's Association's Charles "Bud" Meeks Award - Deputy Sheriff of the Year for Merit at a ceremony Monday. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

The Harford County sheriff’s deputy whose investigation uncovered corruption in Baltimore City Police Department and led to charges of eight officers, will be honored next week with one of the National Sheriff’s Association’s top honors.

Cpl. David McDougall, a supervisor with the Harford County Narcotics Task Force, will receive on Monday the National Sheriff's Association's Charles "Bud" Meeks Award - Deputy Sheriff of the Year for Merit during a ceremony at the National Sheriff’s Association Education and Trade Expo.

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“Corporal McDougall embodies what this award was created to recognize,” National Sheriff’s Association Executive Director Jonathan Thompson said in a statement. “He demonstrated what it means to be a deputy and his bravery and resourcefulness is unmatched.”

The award — one for merit and one for valor — recognizes a deputy sheriff who has made outstanding contributions to law enforcement and his or her agency, according to the sheriff’s association.

Little did Detective David McDougall know his Harford County heroin case would uncover one of the biggest corruption scandals in Baltimore history — the Gun Trace Task Force.

“As sheriff of Harford County, I am pleased with this much-deserved national recognition of Cpl. McDougall’s hard work, investigative efforts and tenacity that led to the discovery and eventual arrests of the corrupt officers from the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force,” Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, who nominated McDougall, said. “These were police officers who used their positions of trust and authority to victimize the citizens they had sworn to serve, and whose actions serve to villainize the dedicated police officers who come to work each day to serve and protect.”

Gahler said the “painstaking work and relentless efforts” of the deputies and officers assigned to the Harford County Drug Task Force resulted in the dismantling of many high-profile drug trafficking organizations, with the Gun Trace Task Force at the forefront.

In April 2015, McDougall and the task force began an investigation into a drug-trafficking organization, whose drug distribution was responsible for numerous fatal and non-fatal heroin overdoses not only in Harford County but in Baltimore county and city, and which reached into northern Virginia and southern Pennsylvania.

The investigation of the drug-trafficking organization led to identification of nine people in key positions within the operation, all of whom were indicted on federal and state drug-trafficking, and weapons charges. Recovered during the investigation were 1,393 grams of heroin, 193 grams of cocaine, four handguns and $18,810 cash.

A federal jury has convicted two Baltimore Police detectives for their roles in one of the biggest police corruption scandals in recent memory.

During that investigation, McDougall discovered possible police corruption within the Gun Trace Task Force of the Baltimore Police Department. His information was turned over to the FBI’s Public Corruption Division, which led to a federal investigation of the police officers parallel to the drug investigation. Eight Baltimore City detectives and sergeants and two Philadelphia police officers have been federally indicted for racketeering and other offenses.

“Sadly, this investigation resulted from the loss of life of one of our Harford County citizens, again reminding us that criminals and drugs have no jurisdictional boundaries and our efforts to identify, and arrest those involved must be unfettered by these borders,” Gahler said. “With more than 3,000 sheriff’s offices across our nation, it is telling that the prominence of Cpl. McDougall’s work on this case and the impact of removing corruption from our collective ranks justly resulted in him being selected by the National Sheriff’s Association for this prestigious award.”

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