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Herald-Mail endorsement

For sheriff: Douglas Mullendore

For sheriff: Douglas Mullendore

October 25, 2006

The two candidates for Washington County sheriff both have a great deal of law-enforcement experience - about 28 years apiece.

Col. Douglas Mullendore, chief deputy for the sheriff's department, has spent 24 years with that agency, working his way up through the ranks after beginning his career with a four-year stint as a town police officer in Boonsboro.

Cpl. Rich Poffenberger plans to retire from the Maryland State Police in November after 28 years of service, a career that included helping to apprehend snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo at an Interstate 70 rest stop near Myersville, Md., in 2002.

So how do we decide between two members of local police agencies who have what seems to be an equal amount of law-enforcement experience?

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We do it by looking at the details of their experience. That's where Mullendore has the edge.

When it became apparent that drugs were becoming such a problem locally that one police agency couldn't handle it, a Narcotics Task Force was formed and Mullendore was its first director. The same was true with gang activity.

On issues ranging from victims' services to domestic violence, Mullendore has been involved, taking the lead in many cases to move things forward in a positive way.

None of this is meant to diminish Poffenberger's experience. What we don't know - in large part because his campaign hasn't told us much beyond what we have repeated here - might make our decision more difficult.

Indeed, some of the ideas Poffenberger has come up with show that he has thought a great deal about local law-enforcement issues. He would like to take drug-abuse prevention to another level by creating a multi-agency drug interdiction unit that would "identify and target potential hazardous situations and drug trafficking problems."

Poffenberger also would like to see substations set up in various parts of the county, to cut response time and build relationships between deputies and the communities they're assigned to serve.

And Poffenberger is blunt about the need to improve communications between the three largest local departments. That's a job that goes beyond giving them a new radio system.

All of that said, Mullendore has the experience of overseeing an annual budget that has grown to more than $10 million and supervising more than 200 employees. He also has been recognized as deputy of the year by the Maryland Sheriff's Association twice, in 1983 and 1996. For all of that, he has our endorsement.

However, it would be a shame to see Poffenberger's law-enforcement career come to an end now, when he obviously still wants to serve. When considering how his administration might be organized, Mullendore would be well-advised to consider giving Poffenberger a meaningful role in it.

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