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New sheriff in town

November 09, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Twenty years after Washington County's last new sheriff took office, the department's second-in-command discussed staffing, gangs and new equipment.

On Wednesday, Col. Douglas Mullendore said his priorities as sheriff-elect include working with Washington County Commissioners to deal with jail overcrowding and preparing for the budget process, which starts in December.

Interagency initiatives, including the creation of a unit dedicated to controlling gang activity, which Mullendore supported during his election campaign, could get into full swing at the beginning of the year, he said.

"The more risk that they have to be apprehended here means that they're going to take their operations elsewhere, or they're not even going to come here in the first place," Mullendore said.

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According to complete but unofficial results, Mullendore handily defeated Republican Rich Poffenberger, a retired Maryland State Police corporal, in the race to succeed Sheriff Charles F. Mades. On Wednesday, Mades was packing up some of the items in his office.

"It's been fun, but it's just time to turn the racetrack over to a new jockey, so to speak," Mades said by telephone.

The sheriff since 1986, Mades, 66, said he was expecting a smooth transition because Mullendore currently serves as deputy chief. Mades said his last day will be Nov. 30.

According to Mullendore, 53, the governor must sign a certificate of qualifications before sheriffs may take office. That could happen at the end of this month or the beginning of December, he said.

Mullendore said the department already has begun working with the county commissioners to find additional space for inmates currently housed at Washington County Detention Center, where an open, common area sometimes is used to accommodate beds.

Though the election changed the complexion of the board, Mullendore said he believed decisions paving the way to add space would be made within the next six months.

"In the interim, we're working with the judges to look at the criteria for home release, pre-release .. pre-trial release, to bring (those) numbers up," Mullendore said.

He predicted the department also would ask for more deputies.

"More staffing for law enforcement is obviously going to be a request," he said.

He said he was looking forward to applying to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., which helps departments adopt best practices.

Neither the judicial nor the patrol divisions of the departments are accredited, Mullendore said. Accreditation gives police forces credibility in fighting civil lawsuits, he said.

Radio technology that would allow rescue and police officers from across agencies to communicate with each other, and the completion of a central booking facility, which would speed up arrest processing, are among the long-term projects Mullendore will oversee.

A day after his election, Mullendore said he was ready to take on the $17.6 million department that employs about 200 people.

"That was something that from the day I came here, I knew I was going to be sheriff, or wanted to be sheriff, and that was something that I designed my entire career around being able to do that," said Mullendore, who has spent 25 of his 29 years in law-enforcement at the department.

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