Sheriff's candidates shoot it out for charity

September 02, 1994|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Sun Staff Writer

When their guns were empty and the smoke cleared, the two candidates for sheriff of Baltimore County still were standing and smiling, the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland was $750 richer and a crowd of onlookers seemed pleased.

Yesterday's pistol shootout took place between Republican Sheriff Norman M. Pepersack Jr. and Democratic challenger Jack McClernan. Charles W. "Chuck" Norris Jr., 48, a Democratic candidate for sheriff, passed on the shootout, saying it was a "cheap publicity stunt."

It may have been just that, but it didn't stop Mr. McClernan, who came up with the idea, and Sheriff Pepersack from having a good time.

Mr. McClernan, 42, a former county deputy sheriff and now is a lawyer in Towson, proposed the event as a way to get publicity and to raise money for charity.

He scored on both points yesterday, and then some. Not only did television crews and other reporters come to watch the event, Mr. McClernan out-shot the sheriff.

Mr. McClernan, using a .357-caliber Magnum, fired 50 shots at a paper target, and only one missed the 5-inch diameter center. Sheriff Pepersack, using a .45-caliber Smith and Wesson semiautomatic, missed the center with numerous shots, and two landed outside the 10-inch diameter target.

"Just looking at the targets, I know who won," the sheriff said.

Under the terms of the deal, whoever lost the shootout would contribute $200 to the Kidney Foundation, because a deputy sheriff's son is suffering from kidney disease. But Mr. McClernan also contributed $200. With other donations and pledges, the foundation will get $750.

While he lost, Sheriff Pepersack said he was not unhappy with his performance. He noted that if he had been shooting at a silhouette target, all of his shots would have been in the torso, or kill zone.

After the shootout, Mr. McClernan said that he and the sheriff agree on "80 percent" of the issues but that he is running because he thinks the department should stress its basic functions of court security, serving court papers and transporting prisoners instead of the ambitions Sheriff Pepersack has for the agency.

Sheriff Pepersack, 60, who served 23 years in the state police and was elected in 1990, has been criticized for trying to turn the department into a mini-police force. He has advocated putting his deputies in marked cars -- which has happened -- and for equipping those cars with lights and sirens, which hasn't happened.

The sheriff said yesterday that in his first four years in office, he had increased the professionalism of his deputies with training, updated equipment and had saved the county $1 million.

Mr. Norris, who retired from the county police force as captain of the Parkville Precinct in 1992, now is head of security at Eastpoint Mall. He also said he is running because Sheriff Pepersack has tried to turn his department into more of a police force, while ignoring basic duties such as serving court papers.

As for the shootout, Mr. Norris said he didn't approve because, "It gives people the image of the bad guys up in the hills shooting at tin cans, and they're coming down into town to challenge the sheriff to a duel in the street. That's not what this job is about today."

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