know what it costs, but I know it’s gone when I become sheriff,” Hawkins said, drawing laughter from the audience.
“The most invasive thing to do is put a live camera in someone’s home unannounced,” Hawkins said, differentiating it from body and dash cameras. “Not on my watch.”
On the contrary, Evans said “LivePD” was a very good experience for Calvert County and that it “did not cost the citizens a dime,” that overtime was paid for by the show and that it “wasn’t a big money maker for the sheriff’s office.”
“I saw that showed police officers in real-life situations that citizens need to see how they react,” Evans said, noting that most of it was traffic stops. “I did a couple of surveys. Eighty-percent of the people loved it.”
Evans said the county will be doing its own version of “LivePD,” now that the county has 80 body cameras, which he said they did not have when they started appearing on the TV show.
The pair were of one accord in their support of the use of body cameras for deputies.
“We were the first sheriff’s office in Maryland to go to body cameras. We saw the legislation that was happening in Annapolis and knew someday it was going to be demanded. I said let’s get ahead of the curve,” Evans said.
The Calvert Recorder was unable to verify Evans’ claims of the local office being the first in the state with body cams. While the department purchased the body-worn cameras in 2015, it did not implement them until last year, as Evans told the Recorder in 2017. St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office was the first in the region to actively use the cameras, starting in 2016 with a pilot launch.
Hawkins, a retired police lieutenant, said he was one of the first troopers to wear a body camera issued by Maryland State Police and that “the camera gives the perfect perspective on what happened on that traffic stop or that encounter with the police officer.”
The candidates had different perspectives in response to a question regarding the steps they will take to ensure high-quality training to help officers understand and confront complicit bias.
“That is part of our six-month curriculum in our tri-county academy … along with behavioral health to deal with mentally handicapped,” Evans said, adding it’s also done through in-service and extra training throughout the county.
“Diversity is the key to our community. We have a lot of diverse people out here. There’s a lot of people that don’t look like me and they don’t look like you, but they are in our community and they have to be dealt with properly and fairly,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins promises to continue what was started in the county in terms of diversity initiatives, but intends to bring more diversity to the sheriff’s office, if elected.
“People need to see people that look like them when they are being stopped, when their houses are being invaded, when their conduct is being questioned ...” Hawkins said, revealing he has been put down on the ground with weapons drawn on him by officers because of his skin color.
The two were in support of the use of speed cameras in response to a question concerning the cameras’ true impact to public safety versus being a revenue generating tool.
Evans said the speed camera program in the county was started by the mayor of Chesapeake Beach roughly 10 years ago, but is run by the sheriff’s deputies to ensure citations are issued properly. Evans said speeding is down in school zones and the revenues have been used for public safety, to include the purchase of body cameras.
Hawkins, who admitted he has received a speed camera ticket, said speed cameras make for safer schools and highways as well as make people more accountable when driving.
Hawkins said he is a former member of a state review board and that “I prefer to have my citizens tell me what to expect” instead of just uniform officers, in response to a question on the use of a citizen review board to investigate police misconduct instead of an internal review. Evans agreed and said down the road a citizen board may be legislatively mandated, but he believes overall that complaints are being handled professionally, especially with community mediation where a complainant and the officer each tell their side.
“Even though the deputy does not have a finding of wrongdoing, he comes away with a better attitude that this person had a reasonable complaint — ‘maybe I can do something different next time’ — and the citizen gets the feeling that ‘I got heard. Maybe something will change next time,’” Evans said.
The pair agreed the sheriff’s position should be nonpartisan, and that addressing the opioid epidemic is a collaborative effort with mental health and advocacy groups, and should include educating the public. Evans noted the Calvert drug court has been beneficial in rehabilitating those with drug addiction.