Why a 'no' vote on police forceI urge all Harford...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 30, 1994

Why a 'no' vote on police force

I urge all Harford countians to vote "no" on Question A -- that is, vote against establishment of a Harford County police force.

As a former member of the Harford County Council, I have followed the issue closely but have not taken any public stance until now, since any stance on the issue might be misinterpreted as being for or against any particular candidate for office. The question of county police force will be decided by referendum and should stand apart from candidate preference.

There are only two reasons for changing a system that has worked well -- first to improve public safety or secondly to decrease costs.

As to the first issue, The Sun in its editorial stated, "Harford sheriff deputies have performed well in spite of political turmoil. There is no immediate scandal in that force." It has only been in the past 12 years that there has been "political turmoil."

Over the years, I have known Sheriffs Fulker, Kunkel, Moyer, Mele and Comes. You might disagree with one's personality or management skills, but each of these men were hard-working, conscientious police officers who have kept the sheriff's office functioning well and abreast of times during a period of rapid growth.

Much of the turmoil has come from a minority number of sheriff's deputies. I am sure there have been some legitimate grievances, but these can be and should be handled administratively.

If you do not feel confident in one's management skills or don't like one's personality, vote in another sheriff, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

We all know that with the growth of Harford County, costs of operation will continue to increase. The Sun stated that the cost of changeover will be minimal and that is probably true.

However, this would establish a new bureaucracy under the county executive while continuing to have an elected sheriff responsible for the detention center, legal papers services and courthouse security. In my opinion, this changeover would result in much more rapidly escalating costs of operations without improving efficiency.

In the best interests of Harford County, I would hope that you would vote "no" on Question A.

Dr. Frederick J. Hatem

Havre de Grace

Why a 'Yes' Vote

There has been a spirited campaign waged over ballot Question A, whether or not to have a county police force, or retain the sheriff's department as the primary law enforcement unit. . . .

Under the current system with an elected sheriff, deputies feel they are being pressured to support the incumbent.

They fear demotions and transfers if they do not, and this occurs regularly. This results in a tense work environment months prior to the election, affecting the morale of the deputies.

By establishing a county police department that is separate from the department of corrections and the communications center, it would allow the county executive to appoint managers with expertise in each area.

Another misconception is that the county executive is solely responsible for appointments and dismissals of a police chief. Appointments and dismissals can occur only with the majority vote of the County Council.

We will still be electing a sheriff for Harford County, because that office is mandated by the state constitution. However, the sheriff's primary duties will be serving papers, courtroom security and other duties prescribed by law.

There is also a misconception being encouraged by the opponents' yard signs equating the creation of a police force to paying higher taxes. There would be a one-time transition cost of approximately $300,000, about $1.50 per capita. This figure has also been verified by an outside auditor appointed by the County Council. Increased costs would come about with increased demands for services. Taxes will not increase if a police department is created.

If you want to take politics out of law enforcement in Harford County, and have professional management of the law enforcement function, vote [yes] for Question A on Nov. 8.

Bruce Wells

Abingdon

Pierno's Red Tape

The more Theresa Pierno discusses the issues and attempts to convince us to vote her into office, the more she becomes a study in inconsistencies.

She puts "the people first" until it comes to finances, and then it's expense accounts and salary increases first. Certainly "the people" didn't insist on higher taxes or the 1 percent transfer tax.

Ms. Pierno claims to be pro-business, then blocks business growth at every turn. Harford County needs business to provide jobs and support public services. . . . She's said she's a consensus builder and an agent of compromise, but neither the county executive nor a number of private citizens who have dealt with her believe that.

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