State police official to run for sheriff Tregoning ran against Brown in 1994 as Democrat

Commander joins GOP

Incumbent calls him 'an opportunist'

March 28, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Kenneth L. Tregoning, a former commander of the state police barracks in Westminster, said yesterday that he will run against two-term incumbent John H. Brown for county sheriff in the 1998 Republican primary.

In announcing his candidacy, Tregoning, who is commander of the state police barracks in Frederick, noted his 29 years of experience with the state police and his desire to improve relations between the sheriff and other law enforcement agencies in the county and government officials.

"I seek this office because I believe I can improve upon the professional image of sheriff," he said.

Brown, 67, of Westminster said he will seek a third term, but has not filed. The filing deadline is July 6, 1998. No other candidates have filed.

Tregoning "is an opportunist, but his philosophy hasn't changed," Brown said. "He'll have to attack me. I have a good record."

Tregoning, a Union Bridge resident, ran as a Democrat against Brown in the 1994 general election. Brown won 53 percent of the vote, compared with Tregoning's 47 percent.

Tregoning, 52, said he switched parties because the Republican philosophy reinforces his "strong beliefs in traditional family structure, Christian values, and a limited role of government in our personal and professional lives."

His decision also was influenced by strong bipartisan support and encouragement from party leaders, he said.

"I wonder what party he [Tregoning] will be representing the next time around," Brown said.

Tregoning said his management style differs from Brown's. Tregoning, who also has served as commander at the state police barracks in Golden Ring, said he would be more apt to seek advice and become familiar with an issue.

"Sheriff Brown seems to be more flamboyant," he said. "He makes decisions rather quickly without researching the ramifications and consequences of his decisions."

Brown "seems to nurture an image of someone who wants to lead and be in the public eye," Tregoning said, noting a photograph that appeared in a local newspaper in November.

The picture showed Brown participating in a drug arrest at a motel. The sheriff had his finger on the trigger of a loaded pistol, holding the barrel against the head of a prisoner who appeared to be secured by handcuffs.

"That photograph did not enhance the image of professional law enforcement officers," Tregoning said. "I am concerned about the message he sent to the public, of how a police officer enforces the law and uses his weapon after a prisoner has been secured."

Brown's actions in that photograph "were not the safest and correct way to deal with a handcuffed prisoner," he said.

Brown must share responsibility for the critically crowded conditions at Carroll County Detention Center in Westminster, Tregoning said.

Plans were in place to spend about $2 million in 1990 to expand and add 100 beds at the jail under former Sheriff Sam Sensabaugh, Tregoning said. Brown revised the plans and the money for the expansion was no longer available.

Construction to expand the detention center will begin this summer and will cost taxpayers $6 million, Tregoning said. The additional space will be insufficient beyond five to eight years because of the rising number of juvenile offenders who are predicted to move into the adult criminal system, he said.

"Sheriff Brown must accept some of the blame for [the crisis the county faces now]," Tregoning said.

If elected, Tregoning said, he would not oppose efforts by sheriff's deputies to form a union. He said Brown transferred or terminated four deputies involved with a fledgling deputies union last year, saying the changes were being made to help the County Commissioners hold the line on a fiscally tight budget.

"Now he is asking that those positions be returned," Tregoning said.

He said he would confine operations of the Sheriff's Department to official mandated duties, sharing and expanding resources to preclude the possibility of a costly county police force.

Brown has steadfastly supported operating his own drug strike force, choosing not to pool resources and efforts with a similar unit operated by the state police, Tregoning noted.

The Sheriff's Department employs 34 people and has an operating budget of $1.6 million.

The sheriff also oversees the county detention center, which employs 64 people and has an operating budget of $2.3 million.

Tregoning said he is forming a campaign committee and will hold vTC a fund-raiser.

His opponent will launch his campaign with a fund-raiser May 2.

Pub Date: 3/28/97

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