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Sheriff's candidates outline plans for drug fight

October 27, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Fighting drugs is the top priority for a pair of law enforcement veterans who are vying to become the next Washington County Sheriff.

Voters will decide between Republican Rich Poffenberger and Democrat Douglas W. Mullendore in the Nov. 7 general election.

Poffenberger, of Clear Spring, advocates creating a unit that would identify and target drug traffickers. Mullendore, of Williamsport, supports working with the parole and probation division and the courts to make sure people addicted to drugs get help.

In separate interviews, Mullendore, 53, and Poffenberger, 46, said drugs seem to drive the other major criminal problems in the area.

"Approximately 80 percent of the people we have in the detention center are there either as a direct result or an indirect result of drugs," said Mullendore, the Sheriff's Department's second-in-command under Sheriff Charles F. Mades.


Mullendore said he would like to help develop an adult drug court that would separate the addicts from the dealers and compel people with alcohol and drug-related problems to get treatment.

"If we don't work to provide substance abuse treatment, it's just going to be a revolving door, which it is now," Mullendore said

Poffenberger, who is retiring Nov. 1 after 28 years as a Maryland State Police trooper, said he wants the Sheriff's Department to develop a criminal interdiction unit that would target drug traffickers, and identify and investigate terrorist threats.

Interdiction training would allow officers to spot criminal activity, such as drug involvement, during traffic stops, Poffenberger said. A one-time K-9 handler, Poffenberger said the criminal interdiction unit would require the dedicated services of a handful of officers, and it would benefit from an expansion of the K-9 program.

"There is nothing better than a properly trained dog - interdiction dog - and handler," Poffenberger said.

The unit would focus on traffickers who move large quantities of drugs, Poffenberger said.

"It's just knowing your limits and getting these guys the training that they need without infringing on anybody's rights," Poffenberger said.

According to Mullendore, who supports drug-interdiction training, the idea requires cooperation between the area's law enforcement agencies. He said he would like to expand the Washington County Narcotics Task Force, which he helped begin.

According to Dee Hawbaker, the county's human resources administrator, the sheriff is elected to a four-year term. She told The Herald-Mail before the September primary that Mades earns an annual salary of $67,500. The salary will increase to $80,000 per year when the new sheriff begins his four-year term, she said.

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