SHER­IFF

The Calvert Recorder - - Com­mu­nity Fo­rum - Twit­ter: @CalRecTAMARA

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.

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