Roughly 50 people waved blue line flags and variations of the message “support our sheriff” at the intersection of Market and Patrick streets in Frederick Monday night.
The group, organized in part by the Frederick County Conservative Club, assembled in support of Republican Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, his policies and local law enforcement.
Fred Propheter, president of the Conservative Club, said he organized Monday’s rally “on a whim” once he learned another rally organized by the RISE Coalition of Western Maryland calling for defunding the sheriff’s office and abolishing the 287(g) program was also occurring Monday night at Baker Park.
He said he has been on ride-alongs with sheriff’s deputies and he believes no racial profiling occurs within the office.
“If you don’t do anything illegal, if you’re not arrested, they do not profile you,” Propheter said. “They can’t take you to jail for having a taillight out. They can’t take you for speeding, unless you’re reckless driving and don’t have a license, then you go to jail and then you go through the process.”
At several points during the rally Monday, drivers through the intersection honked their horns in support of those gathered, and for Jenkins and law enforcement.
One of the residents gathered was Todd Offutt, who lives in Frederick. Offutt said he was attending Monday’s rally in support of Jenkins and local police officers.
Offutt said 287(g) is an effective program and legal residents don’t have to worry about being deported. But people who are here illegally should not be allowed to stay, he added.
“If you’re not here in a legal way, you should have to go back to where you came from,” Offutt said. “And get in line. We’d love to have you, but just get in line.”
“Nothing’s perfect,” Offutt added when asked about flaws with the current immigration system. “But this supports legal immigration ... there are people who stand in line legally to get in this country. And these folks have jumped the line to get over, and if they commit a crime and they’re caught ... they should go back to where they came.”
Multiple former law enforcement officers were part of Monday’s rally as well, including Marty Weedon, who retired as a state trooper roughly six years ago.
Weedon, who lives in the Urbana area, said he was there to “back the blue,” who he feels have a difficult job and need the public’s support.
“I think the problem is nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions ... [and they feel] like the police can do no right,” Weedon said.
Regarding the recent police killing of George Floyd and incidents of racial profiling, there are “a few bad apples,” but there is a lot of good police officers do that doesn’t get recognized, he said.
There are many state troopers, city police officers and sheriff’s deputies he’s known locally that do a great job, Weedon said.
“I’m just happy to be here, and give officers the support they need,” he said.
Ultimately, those who gathered Monday night were supporting Jenkins, the 287(g) program and his work since he was first elected as sheriff in Frederick County in 2006.
Propheter said he used to live in Silver Spring, and prefers the system in Frederick County where the sheriff is elected, versus a county police chief who is appointed by county executives in other counties statewide.
That means the people have a direct say in who they want to ensure public safety in the county, he said.
“They don’t wet their finger to the political winds to see what’s going on,” Propheter said. “He’s not going to tell his deputies to give [criminals] room, stand back and let them have their summer of fun.”