LETTER: Gahler Declines Meeting With Sheriff

Jeffrey Gahler says Sheriff L. Jesse Bane should discuss staffing levels with the public.

Jeffrey Gahler submitted a letter to local media in recent weeks criticizing comments about staffing levels made by the current sheriff.

Gahler, a Republican who in 2010, contends Sheriff L. Jesse Bane presented false information about the ratio of deputies to the population.

Bane responded and writing his own letter to the editor. In his responses, Bane said the numbers do not reflect all sworn officers, but rather the numbers the sheriff's office alone has to police the county.

Gahler submitted in response to Bane's comments.

In Bane's letter, he extends an invitation to discuss the matter with Gahler.

In Gahler's most recent response, included below, he declines the invitation and outlines the issue of staffing levels as he sees it.

Here is Gahler's third, unedited letter on the subject in its entirety:

Sheriff Bane has proposed a meeting to discuss staffing figures.  I must decline his offer, as I wholeheartedly believe that I am not the appropriate audience.  The audience is each and every citizen of Harford County who deserves to be addressed, accurately and with respect.  It is only fair as it is the citizens who fund the public safety efforts of the Sheriff’s Office and it is the citizens who deserve the whole story. 

Sheriff Bane has already affirmed that the information I have brought forth was (and remains) completely accurate.  In addition, I fully understand how Sheriff Bane is arriving at his staffing level statements and, as I have stressed, the statistics he has chosen to defend are grossly misleading.  When used in any official police reference, the average number of officers per 1,000 population includes all sworn officers employed by all police departments serving a population, regardless of the assignment of those officers.  

If we are willing to look closer at the average of .8 patrol deputies per 1,000 residents in the manner provided and preferred by Sheriff Bane, it would mean that what he is trying to say is there are roughly 197 sworn road deputies available to aid the county’s 247,000 residents (formula: (197/247,000)x1000 = 0.8) and that the other roughly 100 sworn members of the Sheriff Office do not count and the officers of the allied law enforcement agencies who serve portions of Harford County’s population also do not count.  That is how you mathematically arrive at .8 officers per 1,000 residents.  Now Sheriff Bane wants to take this personal calculation and greatly increase staffing levels that are still based on statements related to ratios and not actionable data.  With initial statements related to a goal of 2.7 deputies per 1,000 residents, the Sheriff would have to add 470 more positions to the Patrol force, a 238% increase to the Sheriff’s Office staffing.  Since this issue was brought to light, Sheriff Bane has toned down his staffing statements and most recently spoke of his desire to get to 1.5 deputies per 1,000 residents.  In order to reach the 1.5 ratio, he would still be adding another 173 sworn positions, or 88% more patrol deputies.    

To look at these staffing increases in the form of fiscal impact, based on salary figures obtained from the FY 2011 Harford County Budget for a Deputy First Class, Sheriff Bane is proposing that Harford County residents finance an additional $12,000,000 to $32,000,000 to the Sheriff’s Office’s budget each year.  This conservatively estimated increased burden on the taxpayers does not take into consideration training, equipment, and vehicles, or the fact that many of the additional positions would need to be at supervisory and command ranks.  

As stated previously, I am not debating whether additional personnel are needed.  There may very well be a need for additional patrol personnel.  The point is, Harford County residents and taxpayers deserve to have these needs articulated correctly and based on clearly relayed and factual data.  Using staffing comments that leave a question of somewhere between 173 to 470 additional employees and a potential 50 % increase in the Sheriff’s Office Budget seems irresponsible at best.   

Should Sheriff Bane like to meet with me on the myriad of other issues pertaining to the safety of our families, friends and communities here in Harford County, I would gladly offer my nearly 30 years of policing experience to the mix.  I have been very fortunate to have served in numerous administrative, operational and tactical assignments during my state-wide law enforcement career and can offer a more global perspective on a wide array of public safety issues.   

For example and perhaps as a starting point, effective staffing and the safety of our Correctional Deputies assigned to the Harford County Detention Center are one of the important items I would like to discuss.  During my 2010 campaign, I offered my commitment and my plan to add additional Correctional Deputies prior to the opening of the new expansion of the facility.  Today, a year and a half from Election Day, the Sheriff has opened parts of the new Detention Center expansion without additional staff.  This is a safety issue.  The safety of our deputies, staff, inmates and our citizens and neighborhoods is very important to me.  With a record number of in-custody deaths under Sheriff Bane’s watch, I am disappointed that he does not turn his efforts to effectively staffing the Detention Center.        



Jeffrey R. Gahler

Sheila Dennis March 21, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Tom, Also as a staunch Republican, a true staunch Republican, I have to wonder if you took the time to read this letter or any of the letters Mr. Gahler submitted on this topic. Look up at the story, Mr. Gahler states that he would be happy to meet with Sheriff Bane and assist him as needed on public safety issues, but that he is not willing to hide the Sheriff’s attempts to mislead the public. How anyone cannot see that Sheriff Bane has done nothing but try to outright mislead and use a fear of too few deputies in order to gain increased personnel and funding is beyond comprehension. I would like to say that I am shocked that an elected official would be so bold as to not be honest, but it appears that Sheriff Bane is cut from the same mold as our Governor. It is shocking that Sheriff Bane still refuses to admit his actions for what they are, when the topic has been so well researched and documented to be blatantly false. I pray that Mr. Gahler decides to run again and, if we are so fortunate, I have no doubt we will see Mr. Gahler as our next Sheriff.
Marc Eaton March 22, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Well Known I will second that. I was there 22 years and he rode a desk from the rank of Corporal to Major. In 22 years I heard him on the radio one time. With all the calls for service you would think that he would be near just one of them to assist in a back up role?
CB9678 March 23, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Shelia I see no where above where the use of the word Hide was? Please paraphrase acurately what was said. Ghaler said he does not believe he is the appropriate audience even though he is the one who brought it up!
Retired from HCSO March 23, 2012 at 11:17 PM
You and I both know that Jesse is afraid to respond to calls for service or initiate a traffic stop. He does not lead by example. How can he ride a police car to and from work and not be near a complaint or see a serious traffic infraction? There were many nights I could not get home after work because there were so many calls that were on my way home. I would stop a car for passing on a double yellow and the guy would be wanted.. well you know how it is. Jesse is one of those guys that thinks he knows the job and will tell you how things should be handled but he never did the work himself. He is a joke. I remember one of his "priorities" one year...to go after the people discharging fireworks on July 4th. Remember him sending out members of the drug task force to enforce the raffle laws and bingo games? Watch out soccer moms..Jesse is watching your fundraiser activities. Who cares about the drug dealers and robbers? Not Jesse. His most recent concerns are to go after his officers and civilians who did not support him in the last election. We all knew that he would lose his marbles at some point. Too bad the jokers that still support him never had to work under him, then they would be singing a different tune. It is justr a shame that his actions reflect badly on the officers who are out there doing their jobs.
Michael Vance Hooper March 30, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Wake up sparrows of Bel Air, why do we need this corruption in such a small town? Main Street is beautiful, our library bests that of Perry Hall, or Fallston. I am only 21, but this makes me feel much older. What can we do to better stitch up our community? If I want to raise a family here one day, will I have hope? Love and Light.


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