Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins lambasted county Councilman Kai Hagen Wednesday after Hagen interfered in a June 20 traffic stop and, according to Jenkins, jeopardized an FCSO deputy's safety in the process.
Speaking in a live interview with WFMD radio Wednesday, Jenkins admonished Hagen for stopping alongside a deputy making a traffic stop in the area of U.S. Route 15 and Catoctin Furnace Road 10 days ago.
It was getting dark when the deputy pulled the driver over for a tag violation, Jenkins said. As the deputy was talking to the driver, Hagen approached and stopped his vehicle nearby. The deputy recognized Hagen and told him he couldn't stay there, that he was blocking traffic, Jenkins said.
Hagen, in his account, said the sheriff’s deputy was not at the door of the stopped car when the councilman pulled over.
Jenkins said Hagen refused to leave until the driver confirmed to the councilman that he was OK.
"This is outrageous. Who in the hell does he think he is?" Jenkins said Wednesday, referring to Hagen.
Hagen called in to the radio station during the interview and confirmed he stopped his car alongside the deputy after passing by and seeing that the driver was Black.
"My wife and I were driving up Route 15," Hagen said. "We noticed that a deputy was pulling over a car that wasn't speeding, so we didn't know what that was all about, and obviously it could be a lot of different things. And as we drove past ... we noticed that it was a Black driver."
Hagen said he turned around because he wanted to make sure the man was all right. Hagen said his vehicle was "ever so slightly" off the road, but mostly on the road, noting he saw no traffic.
“I was polite to him, and we left as soon as one very basic question was answered,” Hagen said.
Once the driver told Hagen he was OK, the councilman left, Jenkins said, and the deputy issued two warnings to the driver of the stopped vehicle.
"I'm not saying that the deputy did anything wrong," Hagen said, though he offered further comment on Jenkins during the call.
" ... You don't believe that there's any such thing as systemic racism in -- not only Frederick County but law enforcement in the United States," Hagen said.
"That's correct. I do not," Jenkins said. "If there's a racist on the line it's you, my friend."
Jenkins said Hagen's actions jeopardized the safety of the deputy.
"Hagen, you had absolutely no business to interfere with the lawful duties of a deputy," Jenkins said. "He made a traffic stop based on a violation, a clear violation. It was none of your concern to start with."
Jenkins (R) said he emailed Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner (D) and County Council leaders after being made aware of the incident. The sheriff wanted the events brought to light in a public meeting and for county leadership to force Hagen to write an apology to the deputy.
"So, for whatever reason they feel they can't, they won't, I don't know," Jenkins said. "The only recourse I have, I think, is to bring this to the attention of the public. The public should know what the heck's going on out there. And that this guy just is frankly unsuitable for office."
Hagen, a Democrat who was a county commissioner from 2006 to 2010 and has served on the county council — established by the county's 2014 charter — since his election in 2018, announced in March his candidacy for county executive in 2022.
Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer said Wednesday night she hadn't yet spoken with Hagen about the matter. The council doesn’t have the authority to censure Hagen, she said.
“My hands are kind of tied,” she said. “I don’t have authority over the other council members.”
“I’m not his mother," she added.
Any further conversations about the incident will be under the cloud of Wednesday’s radio exchange, she said, noting that the councilman’s actions may put a strain on his relationships with other members.
“I’m at a loss to understand what council member Hagen was thinking,” she said.