Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann's proposed legislation to wrest control of the jail and law enforcement from the sheriff's office will be the subject of a public hearing tomorrow night.
Under the proposal, the sheriff's office would be limited to serving court papers and providing courthouse security.
A warden, appointed by the county executive and subject to County Council approval, would run the Detention Center. A police chief, similarly appointed and approved, would oversee operation of the county police force.
Mrs. Rehrmann estimates the plan, which must be approved by the County Council, would cost taxpayers $279,000 initially, then about $104,000 annually thereafter.
Much of the annual cost would go toward administrative support and hiring a police chief, Mrs. Rehrmann said. The higher first-year costs, she said, would cover one-time expenses for badges, decals on patrol cars and new uniforms.
The executive said she proposed the reorganization in response to the suspicious death of William M. Ford, a Delaware man found dead in an isolation cell at the jail March 1, 1992. Jail officials originally called Mr. Ford's death a suicide by strangulation, but it is now under investigation by a grand jury. His family maintains that the 28-year-old laborer from Wilmington was raped and murdered while serving a 30-day sentence for drunken driving.
The autopsy showed that Mr. Ford suffered a fractured larynx, an injury that three independent pathologists who reviewed the report at the request of The Sun have said is almost never self-inflicted.
The county paid $400,000 to Mr. Ford's family on April 26 after attorneys for the family threatened a lawsuit contending that Mr. Ford was raped and killed.
The public hearing on the county executive's plan to take control of the jail and law enforcement from the sheriff's office is scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow at C. Milton Wright High School on Fountain Green Road, near Bel Air. Copies of the executive's proposed legislation are available by writing to the Office of the -- County Executive, Harford County Government, 220 S. Main St., Bel Air 21014. Copies also will be available at the hearing.