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Online chat with Doug Mullendore

October 22, 2006

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, The Herald-Mail hosted an online chat with Col. Douglas Mullendore, chief deputy of the Washington County Sheriff's Department and a candidate to replace retiring Sheriff Charles Mades.

Our next chat with be Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m., when our guest will be Cpl. Rich Poffenberger of the Maryland State Police, who also is a candidate for sheriff.

To participate in the chat, go to www.herald-mail.com and click on "chat." You also may send questions in advance to onlinechat@herald-mail.com.




Moderator: You have spent 24 years as a member of the Washington County Sheriff's Department. After all that time, how do you maintain a fresh perspective and stay open to new ideas?

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Mullendore: I attend numerous management and training seminars to obtain ideas that work in other jurisdictions. It provokes the thought process to look at new ideas and things that may work for Washington County. The FBI National Academy was one such school.

The academy was designed to bring together mid- to upper-level management personnel from around the world to interact and discuss ideas pertaining to the criminal justice system. I believe in keeping an open mind and soliciting ideas from our own staff, as well as ideas that have worked in other communities, as a good way to stay current.

Moderator: You've been endorsed by the current sheriff, Charles Mades. If you're elected, will you continue doing things just as he did, or will some things or procedures in the department change?

Mullendore: I believe that Sheriff Charles Mades did an excellent job during his 20 years as sheriff. However, there are additional items that need to be accomplished to continue the natural progression in the professionalism of the sheriff's office. I believe that there is training that all three of the divisions of the sheriff's office can participate in together as a group, thus bringing the department closer together as a unit.

There are other ideas, such as the Computer Crime Unit, which is necessary in this age of technology to combat crime committed via the Internet. As a technology person, I also believe that we can provide additional tools to our staff that will make their job easier and more efficient.

An example would be laptops in the cruisers, so all police officers in Washington County, not just in the sheriff's office, would be able to communicate with one another in real time. Calls for service for one department would be transmitted at the same time to members of other departments so that all of law enforcement would be aware of the call.

Brian: I have heard that Washington County does little or no computer examinations during criminal investigations. It seems most crimes these days have a computer involved at some point. Do you have a plan to add computer forensics to your lineup?

Mullendore: Approximately two years ago, I recognized the need for Washington County to have a computer crimes unit to address these very issues. We sent two of our deputies to multiple training classes in computer forensics as well as classes on Internet crimes in general, particularly Internet crimes against children.

This unit is now functional in both capacities and has already conducted several investigations requiring computer forensic examinations. In addition, the unit recently conducted an investigation and made an arrest on an individual who was preying on our children to obtain sex via the Internet.

We continue to provide training and equipment to this unit, as they are the only resource currently being utilized in Washington County to investigate computer crimes. The Washington County Sheriff's office is also a member of the Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children organization as well as a member of the National White Collar Crimes organization.

Moderator: The idea of a central booking facility has been batted around for at least six years, but the political will to get it done seems to be lacking. Do you believe it is important, and if so, how will you convince elected officials to fund it?

Mullendore: During the last legislative session, the sheriff and I sought funding for the architectural and engineering phase for the Central Booking project. We were successful in obtaining $91,000 of the $161,000 needed to complete the architectural and engineering for this facility.

We have already submitted the request for additional funding for the construction phase to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections to be considered by the legislature during the upcoming session.

We are seeking 50 percent of the $2.6 million cost for the construction phase of this project. We have remained in contact with our local representatives of the state delegation to insure their support for this project. The Washington County Commissioners have already included their 50 percent funding in the Capital Improvement Budget. We are anticipating construction of Central Booking to begin in July 2007.

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