HUNTINGTOWN, Md. — On Wednesday, June 29th, the Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department hosted the final Calvert County Sheriff’s Debate Forum before the 2022 Primary Election.
The debate featured the current four Republican candidates running to replace retiring Sheriff Mike Evans; Craig Kontra, Ricky Cox, Mike Wilson, and Dave McDowell.
Each candidate was asked a variety of different questions from the audience regarding their positions on certain issues and what they would change if elected sheriff.
Below are some of the more critical questions asked of the candidates, as well as some of the answers that they provided:
As of Friday, July 1st, big changes in the law are going to be heavily impacting how our officers carry out their duties. If you are elected what policies do you plan to implement to protect deputies from liabilities that threaten to subvert their duties?
Kontra: “I think the biggest thing we have right now is the body cameras because video don’t lie. If they say you did something you look at the video and so forth. For policy changes, we’re gonna have to keep an eye on the high-speed chases. If it’s just for a traffic violation, why kill somebody to chase somebody for that…”
Cox: “As Mr. Kontra said, police work has evolved. I’ve been in almost 20 years doing the job and we have to stay up with the times. Like you say, policy is changing, we have to review accountability boards that have been in place since July 1st and we just announced the people that are on the board at this current time. I think the training I’ve been preaching about is very crucial…”
Wilson: “There’s going to be a lot of policy and procedural changes in every department in the state of Maryland as a result of house bill 670. The Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 that goes into effect July 1st, that’s right around the corner…the law that’s passed creates a lot of things, it repeals LAOBR, it alters police training and standards. The police training standard commission just finally put out, I think yesterday or the day before, a great big document on a disciplinary matrix that states and counties would use to hold their officers accountable and it would be consistent…”
McDowell: “I’m glad to tell you that we began policy revisions months ago to adapt to what’s coming July 1st and our pursuit policy was one of them. We met as a command staff and our policy is pretty sound and the basic impetus of it is that when the pursuit becomes more dangerous than the offense then the pursuit is called off…”
What specific changes or new initiatives have you brought about that will affect the entire workforce of the police department and what were the results?
Kontra: “Couple things when I was working at the sheriff’s office, I helped start the first narcotics section back in 1990 and also helped develop the warrant service squad which we became number one in the state of Maryland for the best squad, and we also got the Maryland award for being the best supervisor…”
Cox: “I talked about in the opening instituting that training program at the sheriff’s office. I had been an instructor since 2006 at the office and I’ve been an instructor in the United States Marine Corp as well, teaching marines how to shoot, martial arts instructions as well, but instituting that training program and changing our patrol shift, and I’ve already introduced this to our FOP. I think that we can have that overlap system which works for patrol so we stay up to current on our policy and our training…”
Wilson: “As I told you before, I’m not currently in the sheriff’s department, I’ve never been in the sheriff’s department, so, you know, it’s hard for me to talk about changes. I haven’t implemented changes in the sheriff’s department…”
McDowell: “I’ve been very fortunate in my career to be trusted and given opportunities to make change. I was a founding member of our mountain bike unit. There was two of us and we had to go out and seek donations to buy mountain bikes and equipment…I was the first intelligence investigator for the sheriff’s office. We never had a criminal intelligence investigator and I was fortunate enough to take on that role and make some really good changes…”
Yes or No – Would you support video surveillance of the county’s drop boxes?
Wilson: “I would if it was a legal thing to do…”
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