Warrants at issue for sheriff candidates

Race pits chief deputy against campaign veteran

Maryland Votes 2006

October 15, 2006|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,Sun reporter

The race to replace Anne Arundel County Sheriff George F. Johnson IV pits his chief deputy against a Republican campaign veteran and college patrol officer.

John E. Moran IV, making his third bid for sheriff, has focused on the 12,000 outstanding warrants at the sheriff's office. The Republican promised to reduce that figure if elected, saying that getting criminals off the street will make the county safer.

"There are all kinds of criminals out there whose warrants have been outstanding for months," he said. "The people committing crimes in this county are out on open warrants. And they're out breaking the law. That's what criminals do."

Ronald S. Bateman, his Democratic opponent, has said the sheriff's office is cutting into the backlog and is calling attention to what he says is Moran's lack of experience. Bateman has been endorsed by Anne Arundel County District Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee and Johnson, who is running for county executive

"I believe people in this county deserve a veteran law enforcement professional to run their sheriff's office," said Bateman, a retired Anne Arundel officer. "If you never manage anything beyond your own checkbook, the public does not deserve to suffer through your trial and error."

The Anne Arundel sheriff's office has a $6.5 million annual budget and is responsible for serving warrants, legal summons and protective orders; enforcing child-support payments, running crime prevention and safety programs and providing security at the courthouse.

Both candidates seem to agree on certain points, namely that sheriff's deputies are woefully underpaid and that because of that, the department has a high turnover rate and is constantly understaffed.

Those who stay on are overworked and limited in their ability to make headway on the warrant problem. Moran and Bateman said they would do their best to see that sheriff's deputies are paid comparably to Anne Arundel County police officers.

They also promised to reduce outstanding warrants by separating out the aging, minor warrants, many of which include dead people or 30-year-old charges. Bateman said he came across a warrant for someone who had let his chickens run loose on a neighbor's property.

Many of the warrants also come from outside the county, so both said they would draw on experience working in multi-jurisdictional task forces to set up a local cooperative for serving warrants.

Bateman, 45, was born in Annapolis and grew up in Glen Burnie, attending Old Mill High School. He holds criminal justice degrees from Anne Arundel Community College and the University of Baltimore, and he attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

He spent 23 years in the Anne Arundel County Police Department, working as a street cop, undercover narcotics operative, DEA task force member, homicide detective, patrol commander and special operations captain, and retired with the rank of captain as the commander of the Northern District.

In that job, he recalled, he had unused patrol cars parked near areas with a high incidence of bank robberies, a tactic that worked because criminals could not tell whether officers were patrolling in the area.

He also began posting crime analysis sheets - which show patterns of where major crimes occur - above urinals in his police station, helping officers to recognize crime patterns.

In 2003, Johnson hired Bateman as chief deputy of the sheriff's office.

Bateman lives in Pasadena with his wife and three children, where he helps run his wife's business, a salon and spa.

He promised a smooth transition from Johnson's administration if he is elected.

"I'm really happy with the way my campaign's gone so far," he said. "We have a lot of momentum with our efforts going forward, and I've received a lot of feedback from Republicans who are supporting me."

Moran, 42, was born in Fayetteville, N.C., and moved around the country while growing up because his father was an Army officer. He spent his last three years in high school at Northeast in Pasadena. He holds business administration and criminal justice degrees from Anne Arundel Community College, the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore.

He briefly served as an Air Force police officer before being honorably discharged in 1983. He went on to enter the Army National Guard and worked his way up to the rank of major.

Moran was a sheriff's deputy in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore and joined the University of Maryland, Baltimore County police force in 2001.

One of the highlights of his career was working on an FBI task force in 1997, when he helped capture a serial killer. Moran was one of several agents who organized 24-hour surveillance of Joseph Metheny, who was convicted in 1998 of strangling a woman and sentenced to death. He told police he had killed as many as 10 people.

A Brooklyn Park resident, Moran ran for County Council in 1998 and for sheriff in 1994 and 2002, both of which were close races.

He soundly defeated his primary opponent last month and said he has felt stronger than ever this time around.

"Compared to my campaign four years ago, this is probably 10 times that," he said.

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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