Bane hoping to end internal strife

Sheriff-elect wants to return to `way it was traditionally done'

November 26, 2006|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

When L. Jesse Bane is sworn in as Harford County's 80th sheriff next month, he won't be among the county officials participating in the traditional event at the local community college. Instead, Bane will take the oath in the elegant ceremonial courtroom of the Circuit Courthouse.

That approach will mark a return to the way things used to be and a symbol of Bane's hope to make his term differ from what the county has grown accustomed to.

"I want to go back to way it was traditionally done," said Bane, a 33-year veteran of the agency.

The Democrat spent much of the past week interviewing potential members of his command staff as he works to shape the leadership of the sheriff's office. Four key positions - including Bane's chief deputy and the warden of the detention center - must be filled.

Over lunch two weeks ago, outgoing Sheriff R. Thomas Golding walked Bane through several of his initiatives. Golding said he offered no suggestions or recommendations during the meeting.

"I apprised him of what was going on, the things I've proposed for the budget, personnel situations," Golding said in an interview before his final awards ceremony Monday. "He's inheriting one of the finest sheriff's offices in the state of Maryland. We've done a lot over all these years, and there's a lot still to be done."

Bane said, "All he indicated was what his plan was. There wasn't any request to stick with the plan."

Bane said he expects a smooth transition. He has worked at various levels of the sheriff's office during his career and was undersheriff in the late 1980s.

For the past 10 years, Bane has led the support services bureau, which oversees administrative affairs and court security. Supported by the deputies union, he won by 15 percentage points in this month's general election.

One of Bane's first projects will be to analyze the distribution of patrol deputies to make sure priority areas are receiving sufficient policing.

"We won't leave any areas uncovered, but I want to make sure we've got our resources allocated so they're meeting the needs of the people in the county," he said.

During the campaign, Bane said he wanted to put an end to internal strife that has troubled the agency. The man widely expected to be Bane's choice for chief deputy - the highest-ranking position under the sheriff - won a temporary court injunction in July after being demoted by Golding because of Golding's alleged perception of him as a political opponent.

Bane would not confirm the selection of Capt. Gregory Carlevaro, who served under Bane as commander of the administrative services division.

"He is a person I am considering, but I want to talk to command staff members to see whether they are interested as well," Bane said.

Changes will not be made based on whom deputies had been aligned with, he said.

"It does not matter to me who in the command staff got involved [in the election] or who they supported. That's not a part of the interview," Bane said. "That's where the elimination of the politics is going to begin.

Command staff positions are expected to be filled from within the agency, but the vacancy at the top of the Harford County Detention Center might not be. Accepting the position would require a deputy to retire from the agency, Bane said.

The previous warden, Richard A. Lanham Sr., was a former head of the state corrections system and took charge of the Harford County Detention Center in 2004.

A $25 million expansion at the detention center, scheduled for completion by 2009, will provide more beds for the jail's growing inmate population. The expansion will require 66 new officers, a significant challenge given the agency's recent recruiting troubles.

Union officials said they hope to meet with Bane to discuss pay parity with state troopers and reversing recent changes in the agency's uniform policy.

Bane's swearing-in ceremony is expected to be brief and include little pomp. Joseph P. Meadows, a Republican who was sheriff from 1994 until his resignation in 2003, had changed the ceremony so that it was held in conjunction with county officials, such as County Council members and the county executive. Bane has opted for a short, 10-minute program at the Circuit Courthouse.

"I am an official of the state, which is different from county, and I am officer of the court," Bane said.

As for settling into his new office, Bane said he never unpacked the belongings he boxed up after he retired in April.

"I don't need a whole lot. Just give me a desk and a computer and telephone and I'll fill in the gaps," he said.

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