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In Baltimore County executive race, Redmer lands police, firefighter endorsements

Republican Al Redmer Jr. on Wednesday touted support for his bid to become Baltimore County executive from unions that represent the county's police officers and firefighters.

Flanked by dozens of supporters wearing yellow “emergency services for Redmer” shirts, Redmer said he would take politics out of the county’s police and fire departments and invest in technology and training for officers and firefighters.

“Under a Redmer administration, we will always have your back and I can say unequivocally that is never going to change,” Redmer said at an endorsement event in Nottingham.

“He has a real feel and understanding of the rank-and-file police officer in the street,” said Cole Weston president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4, which represents county police officers. “They know that they need to feel that they are supported by the executive branch of government.”

Both Weston and Michael Day, president of Baltimore County Professional Firefighters Local IAFF 1311, said their memberships voted overwhelmingly to endorse Redmer. FOP Lodge 25, which represents the county’s sheriff’s deputies, previously announced its endorsement of Redmer.

Redmer said he is the better choice for voters who are concerned about public safety, criticizing his Democratic opponent, Johnny Olszewski Jr., for supporting gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous and his “risky” plan to reduce the prison population.

The Redmer campaign sent a mailer to voters this week calling Olszewski and Jealous “a risky team who’ll make Baltimore County families less safe.”

Jealous has called for cutting the prison population by 30 percent in order to save money that could be used on other priorities. Critics point out that Maryland has already significantly reduced its prison population through the state’s Justice Reinvestment Act, which sends more drug offenders to treatment instead of prison and eliminated many mandatory minimum sentences. Critics say that there are few nonviolent offenders left in prisons. That type of criminal justice policy is set at the state level.

“My opponent’s statements simply aren’t grounded in reality or the facts,” Olszewski responded in a statement. “The citizens of Baltimore County deserve better. That’s why I’ve developed a comprehensive plan to improve public safety: not through releasing violent criminals, but with data-driven and community policing, regional partnerships and proactive outreach to our youth.”

Olszewski countered Redmer’s announcement by unveiling an endorsement from the Blue Guardians, an organization that represents the county’s minority police officers.

“We are proud to support Johnny Olszewski in his campaign for a better Baltimore County and his vision for safer communities for every resident in every neighborhood,” said Blue Guardians President Anthony Russell in a statement.

Olszewski also secured another county employee union endorsement, from the Teachers Association of Baltimore County.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

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