Vows to re­store hon­esty, in­tegrity to the of­fice

The Kent Island Bay Times - - Bay Calendar - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Lead­ing with in­tegrity and hon­esty is what Kevin Rhodes, Demo­cratic can­di­date for Queen Anne’s Sher­iff, says is his top pri­or­ity. “I want to bring back pride in the of­fice and in­tegrity to the po­si­tion,” said Rhodes in an in­ter­view with the Record Ob­server and Bay Times.

School safety, re­duc­tion in bul­ly­ing and cre­at­ing events where po­lice are able to in­ter­act with kids and par­ents among his top pri­or­i­ties, Rhodes said.

He said school safety can be in­creased by cre­at­ing a com­pre­hen­sive plan us­ing tech­nol­ogy for phys­i­cal se­cu­rity with fre­quent train­ing, and in­clud­ing Fire/ EMS.

“We need to be proac­tive in the schools, mon­i­tor­ing what is go­ing on,” said Rhodes. “Even the teach­ers are reach­ing out ask­ing for train­ing on be­hav­iors.”

Chil­dren com­ing from bro­ken homes need ex­tra guid­ance as well, Rhodes said, adding, he would like to cre­ate a men­tor­ing pro­gram and wants kids in the com­mu­nity to be able to have a good re­la­tion­ship with law en­force­ment. Cre­at­ing events for po­lice to be able to in­ter­act with chil­dren and their par­ents is an­other way he hopes to grow this re­la­tion­ship.

Rhodes and his wife adopted two chil­dren from out­side the coun­try, both at a young age, and he said he un­der­stands the need for good guid­ance.

Rhodes is a life­long res­i­dent of Queen Anne’s County, born and raised in Church Hill. He grad­u­ated from Queen Anne’s County High School along with his four broth­ers, who have all served as law en­force­ment of­fi­cers. Shortly af­ter grad­u­a­tion, he joined the United States Army where he ser ved for nine years un­til his fa­ther be­came ter­mi­nally ill with can­cer.

Rhodes served in the 3rd U.S. In­fantry Reg­i­ment of the United States Army, which cur­rently has three ac­tive bat­tal­ions and is read­ily iden­ti­fied by its nick­name, “The Old Guard,” as well as “Es­cort to the Pres­i­dent,” he said.

He at­tended the Mary­land State Po­lice Academy and re­tired in May 2017 af­ter 35 years of honor­able ser vice.

Ref­er­enc­ing a sex­ual ha­rass­ment law­suit brought against the sher­iff’s of­fice by a for­mer em­ployee in 2013, Rhodes said sex­ual ha­rass­ment in the work­place led to the county spend­ing

money that could have been avoided. The of­fice is now re­quired to lead up­dated train­ing, he said.

“I won’t tol­er­ate or ac­cept that in my of­fice,” he said.

Rhodes said his prior ex­pe­ri­ence — 35 years with the Mary­land State Po­lice and nine with the United States Army — makes him a nat­u­ral leader.

“I lead by ex­am­ple, and if you are not afraid to be a leader, your peo­ple will fol­low,” said Rhodes.

As an en­listed man, Rhodes said he did not over­see bud­gets, but was a man of ac­tion. It is im­por­tant to him work within the com­mu­nity and serve along­side the men and women in the field, lead­ing by ex­am­ple, he said.

If elected, Rhodes said he would like to see mo­tor­cy­cle units added back into the of­fice, and he would en­cour­age com­mu­nity polic­ing in neigh­bor­hoods.

A se­nior ci­ti­zen wel­fare check pro­gram, maybe us­ing a reser ve of­fi­cer, twice a month is an­other change he said he would make. As deputies pa­trol they can uti­lize a reg­istr y of se­niors and make wel­fare checks, he said.

He said he would also like to see deputies vis­it­ing each com­mu­nity within Queen Anne’s County once a shift.

Rhodes said there needs to be some ac­cep­tance of the traf­fic is­sue, ac­ci­dents or the Bay Bridge get­ting grid­locked has a trickle down ef­fect. Years ago, if traf­fic was con­gested, the State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion could stop traf­fic at 50/301 to al­low for clear­ing, but Rhodes sym­pa­thized with mo­torists, say­ing he would rather travel 25 miles out of his way than have to sit in traf­fic.

He said he is not a pro­po­nent of “deputies be­ing paid over­time” to sit on Route 50 to keep peo­ple off the ex­its near the bridge. He said he would rather see deputies pa­trolling com­mu­ni­ties, mon­i­tor­ing lo­cal traf­fic and chil­dren’s safety.

In re­sponse to the opi­oid cri­sis, Rhodes said first there must be aware­ness that there is an is­sue, peo­ple have prob­lems and need help.

If elected, he said, “We will deal with the opi­oid cri­sis right away, with the num­ber (of over­doses) rapidly ris­ing.” First would be to ed­u­cate cit­i­zens on the ef­fects and dev­as­ta­tion of us­ing

“Just be­cause you have an ad­dic­tion doesn’t make you a bad per­son,” said Rhodes. “We can ed­u­cate and help, not lock up and pun­ish.”

Cur­rently work­ing for the Sal­is­bury Univer­sity Po­lice, Rhodes said he sees high vol­umes of drug use and peo­ple want­ing help, but they are be­ing told there is no room avail­able at fa­cil­i­ties.

Get­ting men­tal health help and mak­ing ser­vices avail­able is im­por­tant, said Rhodes, and if see­ing in­ter­ven­tion is re­peated for cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als, tak­ing steps nec­es­sary to make sure they get help, and lastly, by en­forc­ing laws.

Rhodes said he be­lieves his ex­pe­ri­ence with MSP will make him a good li­ai­son with county, MSP and the SHA.

His motto all along has been “more ser­vice and less pol­i­tics,” Rhodes said. “I want to keep the cit­i­zens of the county in­volved, want them to reach out and not be afraid.”

Rhodes has been mar­ried for 18 years and has four chil­dren, and two grand­chil­dren. His old­est chil­dren, Heather and Kevin, re­side in Queen Anne’s County with their fam­i­lies. HIs youngest son, Niko­lia Rhodes is a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy and youngest daugh­ter, Anas­ta­sia Rhodes, is a 2018 grad­u­ate of Queen Anne’s County High School and is at­tend­ing Sal­is­bury Univer­sity on a full Army ROTC Schol­ar­ship.

“As a life­long res­i­dent of Queen Anne’s County, an honor­able mil­i­tary vet­eran, and a 35-year vet­eran of the Mary­land State Po­lice, I want to take on the con­tin­u­ing is­sues that di­rectly af­fect our cit­i­zens in our great county,” Rhodes said. “If elected sher­iff, I will ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in day-to-day ac­tiv­i­ties of the sher­iff’s of­fice to en­sure all is­sues are re­solved ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently. Ad­di­tion­ally, as your sher­iff I will not be a politi­cian, I will be in the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing the schools, lis­ten­ing to our cit­i­zens, ad­dress­ing the prob­lems, and be­ing proac­tive. I will ad­dress the is­sues ev­ery day, not just dur­ing an elec­tion year.”

KEVIN RHODES

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Kevin Rhodes, Demo­cratic can­di­date for Queen Anne’s Sher­iff, in his days as a trooper with Mary­land State Po­lice.

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