Cameron briefs se­nior cit­i­zens on crime pre­ven­tion

Gar­vey cen­ter in Leonard­town hosts gath­er­ing

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JOHN WHAR­TON jwhar­[email protected]­news.com Twit­ter: @JohnEn­tNews

St. Mary’s Sher­iff Tim Cameron did most of the talk­ing Fri­day dur­ing a “Cof­fee with the Sher­iff” gath­er­ing at a se­nior ac­tiv­ity cen­ter in Leonard­town, but the close to a dozen at­ten­dees were at­ten­tive and had a few ob­ser­va­tions of their own.

From de­part­men­tal is­sues in­clud­ing re­cruit­ment to new de­vel­op­ments in ad­dress­ing opi­oid ad­dic­tion, the county’s chief elected law of­fi­cer, elected last month to his fourth (and what he has said would be his fi­nal) term, said change con­sis­tently re­mains at the core of his ex­pec­ta­tions.

“Every term has been rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent from an­other,” the sher­iff said. “Noth­ing stays the same.”

The num­ber of un­filled po­si­tions for deputies at the agency has been re­duced from 24 to seven, he said, but some of the 13 new hires now at­tend­ing a re­gional po­lice academy might not stay with the force once they’re on the job, based on prior ex­pe­ri­ence.

“They con­front their mor­tal­ity. It’s a dan­ger­ous job,” Cameron (R) said. “When you live it, it’s a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent.”

The 174 drug over­dose calls thus far in St. Mary’s this year have in­cluded 25 over­dose fa­tal­i­ties, with about a half-dozen more deaths still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, the sher­iff said, prompt- ing ques­tions mo­ments later about deputies ad­min­is­ter­ing drugs to re­vive over­dose vic­tims, the uncer­tainty about what drug users are in­gest­ing, and con­trols over the re­cent ap­proval and dis­pens­ing of med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

Cameron said the pro­pri­etors of a med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary in north­ern St. Mary’s agreed to his pref­er­ence of mak­ing an unan­nounced vis- it, and that its unique prod­uct, “not the mar­i­juana that we see on the street,” has been han­dled prop­erly.

“There has not been a cor­rup­tion of a ship­ment or de­liv­ery,” the sher­iff said. “The se­cu­rity is un­be­liev­able. The ac­count­ing and over­sight of this is tremen­dous.”

Amid the opi­oid cri­sis, he said, deputies are try­ing to get peo­ple with se­vere ad­dic­tion is­sues di­rectly into in­pa­tient re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive treat­ment, as op­posed to briefly in­car­cer­at­ing them with no con­trol over what hap­pens af­ter their re­lease.

“I’m the largest provider of men­tal health ser­vices in St. Mary’s County, and it shouldn’t be that way,” Cameron said.

Early dur­ing the meet­ing at the Gar­vey Se­nior Ac­tiv­ity Cen­ter, spon­sored by the St. Mary’s County De­part­ment of Ag­ing and Hu­man Ser­vices and Triad/SALT Coun­cil, the sher­iff said he counted him­self among the peo­ple re­ceiv­ing scam phone calls, in­volv­ing cul­prits who suc­cess­fully pose as call­ing from the num­bers of in­no­cent peo­ple and in­sti­tu­tions.

“They spoofed [the phone num­ber of] the po­lice chief in Mont­gomery County,” the sher­iff said.

Paul Kel­ley, who at one point lamented the costs from un­treated drug of­fend­ers be­ing jailed on new charges, later said of Cameron’s brief­ing, “It helps the com­mu­nity un­der­stand what the sher­iff is try­ing to ac­com­plish. I think it’s very im­por­tant.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JOHN WHAR­TON

Bar­bara Din­sen­bacher of Call­away chats with St. Mary’s Sher­iff Tim Cameron (R) af­ter his re­marks dur­ing last Fri­day’s “Cof­fee with the Sher­iff” meet­ing at the Gar­vey Se­nior Ac­tiv­ity Cen­ter in Leonard­town.

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