Does Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden support his local sheriff?
Some county politicians aren't sure. There's no question that the executive has quarreled publicly with Sheriff Norman M. Pepersack Jr., a fellow Republican.
And last week, Mr. Hayden showed up at a political fund-raiser for a Democratic candidate for sheriff, Charles W. "Chuck" Norris, 47, a former county police captain who now heads the Eastpoint Mall security force.
"He was very supportive," Mr. Norris said. "He said we need to talk some more later. He wants to see the best man in the job, regardless of party affiliation."
"I was surprised," said Del. Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat who saw Mr. Hayden at the event. "He was the only Republican elected official who came."
Fullerton's Democratic state senator, Thomas L. Bromwell, who backs Mr. Norris, said Mr. Hayden's attendance "lifted a few eyebrows," despite a trend in recent years that has seen elected officials attend fund-raisers across party lines. "This thing with Pepersack and Hayden runs really deep," Mr. Bromwell said.
Mr. Hayden said his appearance at the Norris fund-raiser does not mean he won't back Sheriff Pepersack's 1994 re-election bid.
"I don't know that he [Mr. Pepersack] is running," Mr. Hayden said yesterday, adding that it was too early to talk about the election.
The executive said he went to the Norris affair, at a hall off Belair Road, because "I was invited to a fund-raiser."
But Mr. Norris, a 23-year police officer who retired in 1992 as commander of the Parkville precinct, said Mr. Hayden's office called him and asked permission for the executive to come.
Sheriff Pepersack was equally vague about his relationship with the county executive, although he said he had heard about Mr. Hayden's appearance at the Democratic fund-raiser.
"I'm not going to get all upset," he said. "I'm running for sheriff." Asked to characterize his relationship with Mr. Hayden, the sheriff said, "I'm comfortable."
The sheriff and the county executive have had several policy disputes, the latest involving Mr. Hayden's series of meetings with front-line workers in various departments -- with no supervisors allowed.
Mr. Hayden wanted to meet with sheriff's deputies, too, but Sheriff Pepersack insisted on being present, and the meeting was canceled.
Early this year, Mr. Hayden took back control of the county detention system, which had been run by the sheriff's office for 14 years and was the sheriff's largest responsibility. Sheriff Pepersack now is responsible only for courthouse security, transporting prisoners and delivering summonses.
Mr. Hayden also has opposed the sheriff's attempts to get emergency lights and sirens for his sheriff's cars, body armor for his deputies and permission to respond to police emergencies.
Republican Del. Alfred W. Redmer Jr., who also represents the Belair Road-Perry Hall area, said he wasn't aware of Mr. Norris' fund-raiser. He played down the importance of Mr. Hayden's attendance, saying, "We continually meet people" and noting that he often attends fund-raisers for Democrats.