In­cum­bent, deputy fac­ing off in sher­iff’s race

Vet­eran of of­fice looks to take con­trol Bounds seeks third term as Caro­line’s top cop

Sunday Star - - LOCAL - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com

DENTON — Steven Bid­dle, a 23-year vet­eran of the Caro­line County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, is seek­ing elec­tion to lead it, chal­leng­ing Caro­line County Sher­iff Randy Bounds in the Nov. 6 gen­eral elec­tion.

Bid­dle, a life­long res­i­dent of Greens­boro and the sher­iff’s of­fice’s most se­nior deputy, said it has al­ways been his goal to one day be sher­iff.

He is pur­su­ing that goal now in the hopes that a change of lead­er­ship can re­store the depart­ment to what he said it once was.

“We are down six or seven deputies just over the last year,” Bid­dle said. “It’s hard on the deputies who are still here. We have do some­thing to re­tain deputies.

“The pay is part of it, but it’s time for a change. Some­one needs to step up and make the depart­ment the way it used to be. It used to be the place to be, and it’s not that way any­more.”

Bid­dle, a 1986 grad­u­ate of North Caro­line High School, be­gan his law en­force­ment ca­reer in Oc­to­ber 1993 with Greens­boro’s town force.

He said he ap­proached the town’s then-po­lice chief about join­ing, and the next thing he knew, he had been sworn in and is­sued a badge, car and gun — be­fore he had even been to the po­lice academy.

“They threw me to the wolves,” said. “I had to learn very quickly.”

He went to the academy in Jan­uary 1994, grad­u­at­ing six months later. Af­ter an­other year with the Greens­boro depart­ment, Bid­dle was hired in 1995 by the Caro­line County Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

Bid­dle was a road deputy un­til 2002, when he be­gan a 12-year stint work­ing un­der­cover on the nar­cotics task force.

“It was wild — a dif­fer­ent world,” Bid­dle said.

Bid­dle said he loved the work, writ­ing and ex­e­cut­ing search and seizure war­rants, ar­rest­ing of­fend­ers and tes­ti­fy­ing in court as a nar­cotics ex­pert, in Caro­line and Dorch­ester coun­ties.

He then re­turned to road pa­trol un­til just re­cently, when he was re­as­signed to se­cu­rity in the Caro­line County Cir­cuit Court­house.

It felt like the right time to run for sher­iff, he said.

“I’m not a politi­cian. I’m a po­lice of­fi­cer, and I al­ways have been,” Bid­dle said. “Pol­i­tics are new to me, and I’ve learned it can be nasty at times.”

Bid­dle said his fam­ily and fel­low deputies are sup­port­ive of his run for sher­iff.

“I’m a deputy, not re­tired from the state po­lice,” Bid­dle said. “Who bet­ter to run a sher­iff’s of­fice?”

Bid­dle said un­der­staffing has made the sher­iff’s of­fice a re­ac­tive po­lice force, rather than a proac­tive one.

“Right now, we just go call to Bid­dle call,” Bid­dle said.

He would like to form a war­rant squad, solely to serve war­rants and sum­monses, which would free up time for other deputies.

“Then those deputies can be more proac­tive, mak­ing traf­fic stops, stop­ping by schools, talk­ing to peo­ple,” Bid­dle said.

He praised the school re­source of­fi­cer pro­gram, but said more input on how to pro­tect schools should come from the teach­ers in­side them.

“We all ne­glect to ask the teach­ers, the ones who know the kids, what do they think,” Bid­dle said.

Bid­dle said get­ting a han­dle on the opi­oid epidemic is also a pri­or­ity.

“In my 12 years in nar­cotics, I ver y rarely saw heroin,” Bid­dle said. “But now it touches ev­ery­one. The ma­jor­ity of the crimes in this county are drug-re­lated.”

He said ed­u­ca­tion and treat­ment, not time, will do more good.

“I would work with all en­ti­ties to help ad­dicts,” Bid­dle said. “A lot of good peo­ple are af­fected. We didn’t have the sup­port (re­sources) be­fore we do now.

“If we can stop peo­ple from us­ing, it will de­crease crime. Crime won’t ever go away com­pletely, but any­thing is a help.”

Bid­dle said he would also like to ini­ti­ate more col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween town, county and state po­lice.

“Work­ing as a he said.

The first step, how­ever, would be re­turn­ing the sher­iff’s of­fice to fully staffed, with the kind of pas­sion­ate deputies who in­spire oth­ers to also step up, Bid­dle said.

“It’s go­ing to be like it used to be, a lot of go-get­ters work­ing to­gether,” Bid­dle said. unit only ben­e­fits jail ev­ery­one,”

DENTON — Caro­line County Sher­iff Randy Bounds is seek­ing a third term in of­fice in this year’s elec­tion.

Bounds, a Repub­li­can, has served as Caro­line County’s sher­iff since 2010. He ran unop­posed in June’s pri­mary elec­tion and faces Demo­cratic chal­lenger Steven Bid­dle in the gen­eral elec­tion.

He has been en­dorsed by Gov. Larry Ho­gan and the Bay Area As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­al­tors.

“I’ve been hon­ored to work with the men and women of the sher­iff’s of­fice, and I hope to serve an­other four years with them,” Bounds said. “We have ac­com­plished much, but there are still chal­lenges on the hori­zon.”

Bounds re­tired as a lieu­tenant from the state po­lice in

2008. Dur­ing his 28 years with the state po­lice, he served in ar­eas through­out Mary­land, with as­sign­ments in pa­trol, crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, avi­a­tion, and crim­i­nal and drug en­force­ment.

When he re­tired, he was com­man­der of the Drug En­force­ment Di­vi­sion’s Eastern Re­gion, re­spon­si­ble for state po­lice, al­lied and civil­ian drug task forces in eight Eastern Shore coun­ties.

Af­ter two years as as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the Caro­line County Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices’ Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Di­vi­sion, in 2010, Bounds suc­cess­fully ran for his first term as Caro­line County sher­iff. In

2014, he won a sec­ond term. Bounds said when he first in­ter­viewed with the state po­lice nearly 40 years ago, he said he wanted to go into law en­force­ment be­cause he wanted to help peo­ple.

“That’s still true to­day,” Bounds said. “My job re­volves around help­ing peo­ple.”

Bounds said he is proud of many of the sher­iff’s of­fice’s achieve­ments dur­ing his first two terms.

Work­ing with the Caro­line County com­mis­sion­ers, the of­fice has added five more deputy po­si­tions in the past three bud­get cy­cles, and in the most re­cent bud­get, em­ploy­ees got their first step raise in 11 years, more im­por­tant than ever to re­tain good of­fi­cers.

Bounds said he is work­ing on a four-year plan to fully catch up on the pay scale, which he plans to present soon to the com­mis­sion­ers.

A new train­ing cen­ter was built at the site of a for­mer land­fill, Bounds said, with a range for an­nual qual­i­fi­ca­tions and a class­room.

The in­tern pro­gram has trained 13 stu­dents from both county high schools and Chesapeake Col­lege, Bounds said, the ma­jor­ity of which have gone on to pur­sue suc­cess­ful ca­reers in law en­force­ment or re­lated fields. One of those in­terns, Am­ber Tham­bert, re­cently was pro­moted to de­tec­tive in the sher­iff’s of­fice.

Bounds said school safety is and will con­tinue to be a top pri­or­ity. School re­source of­fi­cers are as­signed to ev­ery sec­ondary school and the only ele­men­tary school in the county in a town with­out its own po­lice force.

For their work to­gether on the school re­source of­fi­cer pro­gram, Bounds and Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent for Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ser­vices Mil­ton Nagel re­cently re­ceived the School Safety Su­per­in­ten­dent and Law En­force­ment Ex­ec­u­tive of the Year Award from the Mary­land Cen­ter for School Safety.

“School safety en­hance­ment is para­mount and will con­tinue to be go­ing for­ward,” Bounds said.

Also among the top pri­or­i­ties is ad­dress­ing the ad­dic­tion epidemic.

“The opi­oid cri­sis is like noth­ing we’ve seen be­fore,” Bounds said. “We can­not just ar­rest our way out.”

Bounds said he will con­tinue to take a com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach, work­ing with pre­ven­tion, treat­ment and men­tal health providers, and trav­el­ing ex­ten­sively to talk to other or­ga­ni­za­tions, schools and churches to build aware­ness.

“We’ve worked re­ally hard to try to get the word out there,” Bounds said, not­ing the suc­cess of the re­cent in­au­gu­ral Caro­line Goes Pur­ple ef­fort in Septem­ber.

The sher­iff’s of­fice also has ex­panded its crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion di­vi­sion, im­ple­mented a fire po­lice pro­gram and added three more K-9 of­fi­cers to its ranks, in­clud­ing two drug-de­tect­ing dogs and a blood­hound, thanks to var­i­ous grants.

In his first nearly eight years in of­fice, Bounds has also overseen the re­build­ing of the of­fice’s fleet of ve­hi­cles and added cam­eras to the cars, to gather more ev­i­dence dur­ing traf­fic stops.

The sher­iff’s of­fice also has an ac­tive pres­ence on­line to fur­ther con­nect to the com­mu­nity, reg­u­larly up­dat­ing its so­cial me­dia pages and im­ple­ment­ing a fea­ture to al­low the pub­lic to search crime records by area.

All of this, Bounds said, was ac­com­plished while main­tain­ing a flat $3.8 mil­lion per year bud­get. opi­oid

STEVEN BID­DLE

RANDY BOUNDS

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