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Sheriff against special deputies bill

February 26, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- There appears to be some confusion surrounding legislation filed by Washington County's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

A bill heard Thursday would give Washington County Sheriff Douglas F. Mullendore the power to appoint citizens to be special deputies if needed.

Mullendore, however, says he does not want to appoint citizens as special deputies, and will not do so while he is in office, even if the bill passes.

"I don't know why that's in there," Mullendore said.

Under the bill, special deputies could be appointed in times of emergency, and County Commissioners would be required to compensate those special deputies for their service.

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Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, who presented the bill Thursday, said he was unaware of Mullendore's concerns. He said he called Mullendore on Thursday evening and said he would amend the bill so that citizens could not be deputized.

Myers blamed the confusion surrounding the bill on a "lack of communication."

Mullendore said he contacted the Washington County Attorney's Office and asked that the bill be amended after seeing it. It was presented Thursday without amendments.

Mullendore wants to keep the portion of the bill that allows him to give a "special deputy" classification to members of other municipal police forces, such as Hagerstown, Smithsburg, Boonsboro and Hancock.

Those special deputies could serve warrants in the county with that distinction, Mullendore said. It also would allow those municipal officers to serve on Sheriff's Office task forces and participate in joint efforts between the agencies in the future.

Mullendore said he was not in favor of deputizing people without police training or expertise.

"I don't know where it got twisted along the way," he said.

Mullendore said he submitted specific language for the bill to the County Attorney's Office.

"And the next thing I see, I'm like, 'Where did this come from?'" he said.

Mullendore said he would never deputize a citizen without police training, but the bill should be changed to prevent future administrations from doing so.

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