Sher­iff at­tends White House meet­ing

Gives in­put on pres­i­dent’s polic­ing re­port

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— As Ce­cil County’s top law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, Sher­iff Scott Adams is used to con­tribut­ing his in­put on a va­ri­ety of statewide mat­ters but his ex­pe­ri­ence last week was a first: con­tribut­ing to the na­tion­wide dis­cus­sion on polic­ing dur­ing a visit to the White House.

Adams was one of about 23 local law en­force­ment lead­ers from around the coun­try who trav­eled to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal Thurs­day to speak dur­ing a fol­lowup im­ple­men­ta­tion brief­ing with the Pres­i­dent’s Task Force on 21st Cen­tury Polic­ing.

The task force was formed by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in the wake of re­cent po­li­cein­volved shoot­ings that have roiled com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try over the past sev­eral years. Its goal was to ex­am­ine poli­cies and pro­ce­dures of law en­force­ment agen­cies, talk with law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, tech­ni­cal ad­vi­sors, youth and com­mu­nity lead­ers and non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions, and

WASH­ING­TON, D.C.

rec­om­mend changes that could help im­prove re­la­tion­ships with the pub­lic.

The fi­nal re­port, is­sued in May 2015, sug­gested six top­ics for de­part­ments of all sizes to re­view and look to im­prove upon. This sum­mer, after a year to im­ple­ment some of the 40 sug­ges­tions, the task force be­gan con­ven­ing eight roundtable brief­ings with local law en­force­ment lead­ers to get their take on the rec­om­men­da­tions’ ef­fec­tive­ness.

So how did Adams get in­cluded in the meet­ing? He’s still not quite sure.

“I think it came out of a re­cent HIDTA (High In­ten­sity Drug Traf­fick­ing Area) sym­po­sium in Tow­son, where Michael Bot­ti­celli, the White House’s drug czar, was in at­ten­dance,” Adams said Tues­day. “I sat at a table with him and talked with him a bit, and we later shared some emails. So I’m sure the in­vi­ta­tion came from that con­nec­tion some­how.”

Soon after that sym­po­sium, Adams said he be­gan to re­ceive emails from the White House’s sched­ul­ing de­part­ment, which in­vited him to a few of the task force brief­ings.

“I was a lit­tle sur­prised and skep­ti­cal at first,” he said with a laugh. “I fol­lowed up with some phone calls and emails to make sure it was real. Even­tu­ally we got a date that worked and I ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tion.”

Trav­el­ing to the White House on Thurs­day morn­ing, Adams re­ceived a tour of the build­ing and talked with some of the Se­cret Ser­vice agents on duty before be­ing ush­ered into the meet­ing.

“It was a neat per­spec­tive to talk with some of the uni­formed and non-uni­formed agents in the White House,” he said. “It was in­ter­est­ing that some of the uni­formed guys at the White House hadn’t ever heard of the 21st Cen­tury Polic­ing re­port though.”

In the meet­ing, Adams said po­lice chiefs from Cal­i­for­nia, Penn­syl­va­nia, Florida, Mary­land and Delaware met with Elias Al­can­tara, as­so­ci­ate direc­tor of White House In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Af­fairs; Brod­er­ick John­son, as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent and cabi­net sec­re­tary; and Ron Davis, direc­tor of the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice’s Of­fice of Com­mu­nity Ori­ented Polic­ing Ser­vices (COPS Of­fice). Join­ing Adams from Mary­land was Sal­is­bury Po­lice Chief Barbara Dun­can.

Adams said he ad­dressed how he has im­ple­mented some of the re­port’s sug­ges­tions in the Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice as well as how Mary­land as a whole is ad­vanc­ing.

For in­stance, re­cently passed leg­is­la­tion will turn the Mary­land Po­lice Train­ing Com­mis­sion into the Mary­land Po­lice Train­ing and Stan­dards Com­mis­sion start­ing on Oct. 1.

“They will be tasked with de­vel­op­ing over­ar­ch­ing stan­dards for all agen­cies statewide,” he said. “That will ad­dress other con­cerns such as post­ing poli­cies and pro­ce­dures on the MPTSC web­site along with com­plaint forms. In fact, a lot of the things rec­om­mended in this re­port are things Mary­land is al­ready mov­ing forward with. I think we’re on the fore­front side of that.”

In his agency, Adams said he car­ries the be­lief that pol­icy is­sues fall into one of three cat­e­gories: you don’t have them, you have them but they’re not up to date, or you have them and they’re cur­rent, but they’re not fol­lowed.

Adams said he doesn’t be­lieve there are any is­sues with his deputies fol­low­ing the agency’s poli­cies Sher­iff Scott Adams was one of sev­eral law en­force­ment lead­ers in­vited to the White House last week for a task force meet­ing.

and pro­ce­dures, but a Pol­icy Re­view Com­mit­tee has been work­ing on re­view­ing ev­ery word of the of­fice’s pol­icy book in search of up­dates that would make it more cur­rent to law en­force­ment’s mod­ern­iz­ing chal­lenges. Changes are be­ing made piece­meal as they are iden­ti­fied and the com­mit­tee meets each week on up­dates. Adams noted that CCSO is re­view­ing na­tional and in­ter­na­tional pol­icy guide­lines as well, but writ­ing its own to best fit the special du­ties with which a sher­iff’s of­fice is tasked, such as war­rant serv­ing and court pro­tec­tion.

“A lot of our poli­cies and pro­ce­dures are still good, but we’re look­ing at ones that are more in the spot­light to­day, such as use of force and of­fi­cer com­plaint pro­ce­dures,” he said. “It’s a ma­jor process that we’re in the midst of now.”

Adams also told the task force about the ad­vance­ments that his agency has made with tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia as a way to help foster im­proved re­la­tions. CCSO rou­tinely uses Face­book and Twit­ter to reach read­ers and re­spond to res­i­dents’ con­cerns, and has even hosted a vir­tual town hall with Adams as a way to reach the top of­fi­cial di­rectly.

“You have to have those re­la­tion­ships, be­cause you can’t just put in­for­ma­tion out as it’s just as im­por­tant to get in­for­ma­tion from the com­mu­nity. It’s crit­i­cal,” he said. “You have to keep your thumb on the pulse of what’s hap­pen­ing, oth­er­wise you’re fall­ing be­hind. And in to­day’s world with law en­force­ment chang­ing by the second al­most, you re­ally have to un­der­stand the dy­nam­ics of your com­mu­nity. If you’re not get­ting in­for­ma­tion from the com­mu­nity then you’re re­ally do­ing a dis­ser­vice to your agency and the com­mu­nity.”

In hear­ing from the other par­tic­i­pat­ing agen­cies, Adams said he was in­ter­ested to hear of an of­fi­cer well­ness pro­gram from a Cal­i­for­nian coun­ter­part who al­lowed workout hours while on duty. Like some of the other sim­i­lar-sized agen­cies, how­ever, Adams said some of the pro­pos­als would be ham­strung by CCSO’s com­par­a­tively smaller bud­get.

“One of the things we heard was that, un­for­tu­nately, some of the re­port’s sug­ges­tions wouldn’t be possible due to bud­gets,” he said. “It’s al­most like an un­funded man­date.”

Over­all, Adams said he and many of his col­leagues present Thurs­day agreed that the re­port’s six pil­lars are a strong start­ing place for ef­fec­tive im­prove­ments, but the in­di­vid­ual rec­om­men­da­tions may not all be re­al­is­ti­cally possible.

“Some of these sug­ges­tions are re­ally good, but oth­ers, quite frankly, are not,” he said. “You can tell that some of these rec­om­men­da­tions are not com­ing from a po­lice per­spec­tive, and there­fore aren’t very re­al­is­tic in my mind.”

Adams said he wasn’t sur­prised that the White House was seek­ing in­put from local lead­ers on their polic­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, but was glad to see so many par­tic­i­pat­ing.

“It’s re­fresh­ing to hear that they did this re­port and then they’re seek­ing re­al­time feed­back from chiefs in per­son,” he said. “All in all, it was a pretty neat ex­pe­ri­ence to be a part of.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF SINGERLY FC

A stolen SUV crashed in Elk­ton on Mon­day night as it was be­ing pur­sued by po­lice, burst­ing into flames.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF WHITE HOUSE/PETER SOUZA

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den meet with rank-and­file law en­force­ment of­fi­cials from across the coun­try in the Oval Of­fice on Feb. 24, 2015.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

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