Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins should retire.
It’s past time for someone to supervise Frederick County law enforcement through the lens of social justice and equity. I also would strongly encourage the city of Frederick to carefully monitor the attitude of Police Chief Jason Lando on his fear of emboldened “criminals” and “cops and law-abiding citizens at risk,” as quoted by Mary Grace Keller in Monday’s front page article. Police officers and supervisors who are afraid of the communities they are hired to protect should be weeded out — either by the voters, or by careful attention to terms of employment by the county and city of Frederick.
We are nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century, but policing in the United States seems to be permanently stuck in the early 19th century. Then the primary job of officers was to capture runaway slaves. Later, during the Jim Crow era from the 1870s to the 1960s, the assumption made by law enforcement was [and still is] that everyone is suspect, anyone who is not white is a criminal, and most egregiously, shoot first and ask questions later — or, as Sheriff Jenkins would put it, be “reactive.”
Our society is evolving. Frederick County needs to pivot from reactive law enforcement to equitable public safety. Escalation to violence of traffic infractions and domestic disputes leading to murder by police must stop. The solution is in the details of the Maryland Police Accountability Act — popular enough among the citizens for the Democratic legislature to overcome a veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. But Mr. Jenkins resorts to schoolyard bullying and name-calling “liberal, pandering politicians.” Mr. Jenkins’ words make clear that he is out of step with the political will in Maryland. He must step down at the end of his term in 2022.