This is the world we live in now: When you think you’re doing the right thing, when you think you’re sticking your neck out on someone else’s behalf, when you think you’re watching out for others, it blows up in your face because everything you say or do is political.

When Frederick County Councilman Kai Hagen interfered with a traffic stop involving a Black driver on June 20, everyone who has kept up on the news over the past few years understood why he did it. Unless you were living on an island in the middle of nowhere, you got it.

Even if we assume that Hagen’s intentions were well-meaning, he was wrong to interfere in a traffic stop. Nonetheless, he does deserve a defense, so examining Sheriff Jenkins’s response to the incident seems reasonable.

There were so many ways for Sheriff Jenkins to handle this. Did he respond from his position as sheriff and set up a private meeting with Councilman Hagen or reprimand him in a private phone call? Did he send him a strongly worded letter? Did he privately issue him a written warning? Did he carefully use the incident to instruct or warn the public? These are a few things that a sheriff might do. Instead, Jenkins responded from his position as a Republican and made the incident public and blatantly political.

As reported by the Frederick News-Post, Jenkins sent an email to Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and County Council leaders, claiming he wanted the incident with Hagen brought to light publicly, and he wanted county leadership to force Hagen to write an apology to the deputy. It seems that things didn’t happen fast enough for Jenkins. He took to the air waves, stating that Hagen was unsuitable for office. Had Hagen been anyone but a local prominent Democrat, one that is running for county executive in 2022 to boot, things might have played out differently.

“Who the hell does he think he is?” Jenkins said in the first of two radio interviews.

When the desired apology from Hagen did come, it wasn’t enough for Jenkins, and we have since learned that it wasn’t enough for the Republican Club of Frederick County. They have made it clear that their objective is Hagen’s head on a platter, meaning only his resignation or removal from office will satisfy them. That’s a Trumpian objective and one with which we are familiar.

A certain new faction of the Republican Party is here, doing what it does in Washington. They don’t blink when one of their own serves up lies and misinformation, is caught up in improprieties of a financial or sexual nature, or contributes to or supports an insurrection, but they go ballistic over any real or perceived infraction done by their opponents, and they keep pounding away at it until they get the job done, the job being to “do harm”.

You might say both parties do that, at least to some extent. That may be so, but Republicans seldom talk about policies. Their focus is strictly on tearing down their opponents.

Jenkins can claim that his law enforcement bona fides are what drives him in this conflict with Hagen. Yet his second interview belies that. In it, he doubles down, a term that, in the new Republican party, is a euphonism for “rachet up the situation with unproven additional claims”.

Jenkins doubles down in this second interview by claiming, again as reported by FNP, that Hagen, driving a white Toyota Prius, interfered in another traffic stop in October and suggesting, as if he were judge and jury as well as sheriff, that he felt it was “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Hagen claims this is a false accusation and that he and his wife don’t even own a Prius, nor has he driven one. According to Hagen, he and his wife started receiving threats and ugly messages.

Interfering in a traffic stop is wrong, but in this instance, as always, two wrongs don’t make anyone right. Sheriff Chuck Jenkins’ response to the incident was, at the very least, a sheriff’s response weakened greatly by overt and typical political behavior.

Patricia Weller writes from Emmitsburg. She can be reached at jpwburg2@gmail.com.

(34) comments

Piedmontgardener

Bullseye, Ms. Weller. Outstanding letter.

MrSniper

Watching or talking to police while they carry out their duties doesn’t equate to interfering. In fact, people have the right to do both. It is insane that so many people are just willing to go along with whatever opinion some members of the police have on this issue, no matter how high up the chain of command they happen to be.

O's fan

Aw,

Your comment is the one that is irrelevant. You know exactly what I'm referring to as the "wrong." Your comment is silly and certainly petty.

MD1756

"When Frederick County Councilman Kai Hagen interfered with a traffic stop involving a Black driver on June 20, everyone who has kept up on the news over the past few years understood why he did it."

No, everyone who knows what is going on doesn't understand why he stopped unless we all agree it was for political appearances. Does the Frederick County Sheriff's Department have a track record of inappropriate violence during traffic stops, particularly those guilty of only traffic violations? No, they don't.

Certainly racism exists and it shouldn't. Traffic tickets may of may not be disproportionately handed out to minorities. If they are, the causes should be studied and addressed if needed but what is not needed is for a politician to interject himself into a traffic stop (it could have been more, but Hagen didn't know that when he stopped). If one wants to (wrongfully) apply national statistics or statistics from another area to Frederick, lets look at some statistics from https://scholars.org/brief/what-20-million-traffic-stops-reveal-about-policing-and-race-america and from https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/systematic-racism-in-policing-its-time-to-stop-the-lying/

The first citation (a study from NC) shows there is a disparity even when the factors for the stop in the first place are considered. That certainly needs to be addressed but not by a politician at a traffic stop. The second citation provides much more detailed data about police killings. "In 2019, police shot and killed 1,003 people in the US, according to the Washington Post’s Fatal Force database. Of those, 250 were black and 405 white. Police shot and killed 55 unarmed suspects, including 25 whites and 14 blacks.... Shooting an unarmed suspect can be justified if a suspect makes a furtive movement, attacks an officer, or tries to take the officer’s firearm. Of the 14 incidents of unarmed black men shot and killed by police in 2019, several involved high-speed car chases, fights with officers, or had weapons recovered at the scene. Every shooting needs to be evaluated on its own merits, and only one of the involved officers has been charged with murder, but for this analysis, assume all involved excessive use of force.... In 2015, about 53.5 million people had at least one contact with police, and 95% of those contacts involved traffic stops, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).... According to the US census, in July 2019, an estimated 328,239,523 people resided in the US. Blacks comprise 13.4%, or 43,984,096 people. That means police shot and killed one unarmed black male out of every 3,141,721 black Americans. [I've calculated the number for whites 25 out of 250,522,190 or 1 out of slightly more than 10 million. 14 and 25 are small numbers compared to their respective populations and a small change can make a big difference is statistics. That said there does appear to be a difference and it should be studied at a higher level, but again those numbers don't apply at the local level when the numerator is zero.

Given the low frequency of the unarmed shootings, if Hagen only stops for minorities then he is acting in a racist manner.

shiftless88

If it were for political appearances then he would have touted it himself. He sought zero publicity. Rather it was Jenkins who sought publicity for political appearances.

O's fan

I'm tired of listening to Hagen's Heroes. Their minds will not be changed. They refuse to see the wrong that was done by balloon boy.

Awteam2021

O’s fan, You know it’s common to follow your statement with the “wrong”. Or your comment is irrelevant. High school speech. Right?

Dwasserba

“Even if we assume that Hagen’s intentions were well-meaning, he was wrong to interfere in a traffic stop.” 😐

TrekMan

Ms. Weller, I get your view, all though it's a little distorted due to your political tilt, but until you went down the political path with Trump, etc., that ruined your rant. Trump is gone, it's time to focus on all the crap your boy Sleepy Joe is putting us through with immigration, spending, and Sleepy Joe being.....well, Sleepy Joe (you don't know if he's here nor there - and that's the point, neither does he :-)).

shiftless88

If Trump is gone I sure wish the Republicans would stop kissing his posterior

phydeaux994

How exactly has Biden changed your life for the worse JerryR? I think the vast majority of Americans are enjoying life once again since we don’t have to put up with the daily “oh poor me” rants and the lies and Racist rhetoric and the crimes against our Country that we are learning more about every day. How has YOUR life changed for the worse JerryR. Please be specific.

DickD

Good summary, Pat. We need a new Sheriff!

MD1756

"When Frederick County Councilman Kai Hagen interfered with a traffic stop involving a Black driver on June 20, everyone who has kept up on the news over the past few years understood why he did it." I was unaware that the Frederick County Sheriff's department has had a long standing track record/pattern of police brutality against people during traffic stops. No, I can't understand why Hagen would stop for one person and not stop for every traffic stop he sees. If he bases his stopping based on race, then he is racist too. First let's agree that racism exists and racism is stupid at best. Having said that here is some information from Law Enforcement Today (hopefully they are honest with their data and citations): https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/systematic-racism-in-policing-its-time-to-stop-the-lying/

"In 2019, police shot and killed 1,003 people in the US, according to the Washington Post’s Fatal Force database. Of those, 250 were black and 405 white. Police shot and killed 55 unarmed suspects, including 25 whites and 14 blacks... Of the 14 incidents of unarmed black men shot and killed by police in 2019, several involved high-speed car chases, fights with officers, or had weapons recovered at the scene.

Every shooting needs to be evaluated on its own merits, and only one of the involved officers has been charged with murder, but for this analysis, assume all involved excessive use of force.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR), there were 686,665 sworn police officers in the United States in 2018. That’s one unarmed black male shot and killed for every 49,047 sworn police officers.

In 2018, police made 10,310,960 arrests, according to the FBI, and the race was known for 5.6 million offenders.

Of them, 1,548,690 (27.4%) were black. There were 229 black males shot and killed by police that year, according to the Washington Post, for a ratio of one out of every 6,762 black offenders. The ratio of unarmed black men shot and killed (23) in 2018 was one out of 67,334 black men arrested... In 2015, about 53.5 million people had at least one contact with police, and 95% of those contacts involved traffic stops, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

According to a BJS special report, 91% of whites and 85% of blacks contacted by police during traffic stops said police behaved properly. Of citizens contacted during street stops, 81% said police acted properly. Only 2% of all citizens contacted by police experienced force, or the threat of force... According to the US census, in July 2019, an estimated 328,239,523 people resided in the US. Blacks comprise 13.4%, or 43,984,096 people. That means police shot and killed one unarmed black male out of every 3,141,721 black Americans. [That compares to 1 out of about 10 million whites]" So there is a difference but we are talking about small numbers where just a few in either direction make a significant difference in the percentages. Race should be an independent factor for police, but the numbers show Hagen was wrong to interject and distract the police from their job. Again, how often has a traffic stop in Frederick County had unjustified violence against a motorist? That is what Hagen should base his actions on.

Dwasserba

I didn’t really want to read more on this but it was well-written. You didn’t mention the deputy being Jenkins’ son. Wasn’t that true? Dad went a little nutty. Keep Dad away from the radio.

Plumbum

Daddy got unhinged

sevenstones1000

He watched a cop. Not interfering. We should all watch the cops.

TrekMan

The minute Hagen spoke to the Deputy, he interfered. Sometimes I have to wonder where you folks come from??

shiftless88

So if he had helped the Deputy (thereby interfering) would you still be against it?

phydeaux994

Obviously not all our lives in Frederick County. Us folks come from the Real World where the Real People live.

TrekMan

Go back there then....

phydeaux994

BTW, what statute did Mr. Hagen violate? Answer shifts question. If you see a LEO getting beat up by someone, should you interfere? You make no dang sense Jer.

TrekMan

Phy - it's actually illegal to interfere - it's the law.

threecents

WADR, What Kai did wasn't interference because Deputy Jenkins was able to do his job, which was to issue a citation to the stopped driver. That is why Kai was not issued a citation. Legally, there was no basis to charge Kai. Still, what Kai did was potentially problematic, which is why he apologized. Done. No harm, no foul. Get over it.

Greg F

How many more letters do we need on this topic. Dead horse is well beaten already.

jsklinelga

Ms. Weller,

"overt and typical political behavior." Interesting phrase. Yes it could be attributed to Mr. Hagen's actions. Even to your column. And yes, people do pay attention to the news of the past few years which is why there was such a strong response condemning Mr. Hagen's actions.

Many in this section will salivate over your political rambling. And to those that disagree, similar to your remarks., they will be called liars, insurrectionists, racists etc..

But 2022 will give a true picture of what the majority feel.

shiftless88

JSK: will you address your support of a racist? You tossed that out there casually a week ago and have avoided my questions about it. When you realized that the business you were in was run by a racist, why did you continue to shop there? Why support that? Were there no other shops within ten miles? Please let us know.

TrekMan

Where's proof of racism - yeah, right, I thought so....nothing. Race baiter!

NewMarketParent

@JerryR

You don't even have a toe to stand on.

shiftless88

Jerry; apparently you missed his own post when he said he went into a bait shop, saw the rebel flag, heard the owner/worker make racist statements, yet STILL bought his stuff there. If it were me, I'd turn around and walk out rather than hand a dime to a racist.

shiftless88

Jerry; will you now admit that what JSK admitted is supporting a racist?

olefool

Jsk: What are the chances you will feel the same after Democrats take strong majority's in the House and Senate in 2022?

IMHO..they are called liars and insurrectionist and racists because that's who and what they are

Dwasserba

I think to say a “strong response” condemned Hagen is overstating. It also ignores the middle roaders and “see both siders.” All these vote.

DickD

Jim, let me commend you on being an authority of political rambling!

NewMarketParent

@jsklinelga

Is that the same way that 2020 was supposed to give us that feel?

I see your party doing everything in its power to make it harder for people to vote. Is that because you guys know you can't win if everyone participates?

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