Harford jail chief Lanham resigns

Task of filling job to wait for new sheriff

July 04, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

Richard A. Lanham Sr., the former head of the state corrections system who quietly took the reins of the Harford County jail in 2004, is stepping down, citing personal reasons.

Lanham's departure comes at a critical moment for the county sheriff's office because a number of high-ranking deputies who oversee jail and courthouse operations have stepped down in recent months.

Sheriff R. Thomas Golding, who is not seeking to keep his position in the fall election, said he will hold the positions open and allow the new sheriff to select replacements.

Lanham has spent 41 years in law enforcement, including nine years as head of the state prison system. He retired from that position in 1998, after weathering such storms as a riot in a Hagerstown prison in 1992 and another in a Jessup prison in 1997. He also noted a desire to travel as a reason for leaving the job.

He resurfaced in Harford six years later and oversaw efforts to fund a $23 million expansion of the county detention center. The funding for the expansion was approved this year.

During his tenure, a number of Harford corrections officers have resigned amid allegations of improper sexual conduct with inmates.

A spokesman for the sheriff's office said Lanham was retiring to spend time with an ailing family member in Georgia.

"I have given the citizens of Baltimore City, Harford County and the State of Maryland the best I have to offer," Lanham said in a news release.

Golding said Maj. Elwood Dehaven of the sheriff's office would serve as acting warden until the new sheriff appoints a replacement.

In addition to Lanham, the agency saw two other high-level retirements effective July 1.

Maj. Jesse Bane, commander of the department's support services bureau, stepped down to run for sheriff. The commander of the detention center's operations bureau, Capt. Lawrence E. Delbridge, retired July 1.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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