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January 3, 2014

Sheriff’s Political Tricks

Roy Meachum

At the height of the holidays – Christmas Eve – there appeared two stories on The Frederick News-Post front page: the sheriff’s department arrested 27; and, side-by-side, three deputies wanted charges arising in the Robert Ethan Saylor’s death dismissed.


Mr. Saylor, to rehash again, was a 26-year-old, 292-pounder with Down syndrome. Taken by his handler, he went to the local theatre to see “Zero Dark Thirty;” he wanted to sit through another showing. The aide left to get her car, warning she would be right back. Instead, the manager intervened, demanding another ticket from the moneyless man.


The Frederick grand jury ruled it “homicide,” but they didn’t fix the guilt. The Saylor family sued the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department, and it might bring down Sheriff Chuck Jenkins. Despite an earlier incident that involved 18 shots that drew no indictment, he is above all, political. From the boyish grin to the crew cut, he works at any level.


Mr. Jenkins drew his present job by waiting patiently as a detective in the department. He was former president of the county GOP. He defeated Harold Domer, now the county dogcatcher, who was then a Frederick City police captain and deputy chief. Surprisingly, I supported Mr. Jenkins in both races.


But the sheriff turned me against him. He talked against the arrangement with Westview Mall where sits the movie theatre involved in the Ethan Saylor case. He didn’t think that it was seemly for the mall to employ deputies as security guards. It turns out he was right – for the deadly reason, he wasn’t expecting the death; nor the family suing his officers.


The county grand jury expectantly ruled “homicide,” but they were reluctant to blame the deputies, because of Mr. Jenkins’ political influence and the movie theatre’s status as employers. The chain is heavy in industrial ranks and has a legal counsel to match, but above all I see the sheriff’s shadow in the verdict. They are in Knoxville, Tennessee; his, in town.


There was a News-Post Letter to the Editor published one week later, on New Year’s Eve – calling Ethan Saylor’s case not to be forgotten; these are mere tokens. But, after 2014 elections were Chuck Jenkins to sit in the sheriff’s office, it would amount to scandal and injurious for the whole system.


At this point, I’m calling for Kim Dine, presently the chief of the Capitol Police, to return to Frederick; he still lives right across from the Baker Park the tennis courts, alongside 2nd Street. Mine was not the only opinion to view him favorably; ex-Mayor Jeff Holtzinger once said to someone, not me: If Kim were to run for mayor, he would win, “hands down.”


Chief Dime, in comparison with the present sheriff, plays it straight down the law enforcement book, not politically.


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