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February 26, 2013

Chuck Jenkinsí More-Than-Rough Patch

Roy Meachum

Chuck Jenkins was introduced to me years ago as the chairman of Frederick County Republican Central Committee. His day job consisted of being a detective in the sheriff’s department. In 2006, he decided to have a go at the big banana’s chair. I supported his ambitions both early and late.


Chuck has caused much talk lately; his name appeared in The Frederick News-Post almost daily, climaxing in a Saturday editorial and Sunday’s Letter to the Editor, criticizing his official position on the death of Ethan Saylor. The Down’s Syndrome-afflicted man wouldn’t leave the Westside Cinema after he finished seeing “Zero Dark Thirty.”


Sheriff’s deputies serve as security for the complex. When Chuck was elected they wore their official outfits, complete with badges and side arms. Shortly after he was sworn it, they lost all their on-duty regalia. (As a weekly movie visitor, I pulled back from an encounter with a deputy corporal. He got tough when I observed the crowd was being held back to the perimeters of the shopping center; Mel Gibson’s “Passion of The Christ” was being shown. The controversial movie created confrontations, so I understood.)


Even without their metallic stars, they are recognized as sheriff deputies. So, naturally, when Mr. Saylor died, the public and press went looking for Chuck Jenkins. The story developed later that the New Market resident went to the movie with a trained medical companion; she had gone to fetch the car to take him away immediately. The deputies blocked access to her patient; they treated him like a truculent customer who would not buy a ticket for the later showing. In any event, the Maryland state medical examiner’s finding in the case was homicide, as you have read and heard.


In this Republican county, where all elected officials belong to the GOP, I wrote off the sheriff’s position on immigration to politics; not realizing – or admitting – that would give the sworn officers an impression that they, as individuals, are above laws. They think themselves superior beings obviously, able to discern citizens having committed crimes – without catching them in the act. The whole department is infected by this Uebermensch attitude, and taxpayers have paid big bucks.


In one case, $600,000 to a family that a deputy shot a beloved dog; he “says” his past experiences made him wary. In another instance, two Sheriff policemen let go 18 bullets in a suspect’s direction; they “say” he pointed a shotgun at them. Several hundred thousand to defend a lawsuit by a Honduran lady eating a sandwich when she was arrested; the judge’s kicking out of court was celebrated by xenophobic Frederick. By the way the lady was never deported.


Chuck Jenkins comes up for re-election next year; he is by no means a shoo-in. Having not moved up, Frederick’s police Capt. Kevin Grubb retired. The deputy chief allowed his name to be floated around in 2010, the last voting for the sheriff’s office; through this column, I opposed him. Next year it might be different. By the way, Kevin’s also a Republican.


A wholesale reorganization in the county primary law enforcement department is in order. Chuck Jenkins might be given by voters another term, even if he doesn’t straightened out the mess in his office.


But for me, enough is enough.


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