Third Candidate Plans Run At Open Sheriff’s Post

BERLIN – A third
challenger for the Worcester County Sheriff’s position, patrol Sergeant Bobby
Brittingham, would like to bring his 25 years on the street to bear against
Worcester County crime.

Brittingham, a native of
Pocomoke and a Marine Corps veteran, announced his candidacy this week, joining
what is becoming a crowded race for retiring Sheriff Chuck Martin’s position,
alongside Reggie Mason and Carroll Overholt.

Community policing and a
renewed focus on crime fighting dominate Brittingham’s platform.

“I think we’ve lost the
personal touch with the people,” Brittingham said.

Relations between the
Sheriff’s office and civilians is non-existent, he said this week, prompting
him to propose a police-civilian review panel, which would meet monthly to
allow citizens to register complaints, report problems and receive information
face to face from the Sheriff’s office.

Brittingham also
proposes reviving community watch programs in Worcester County neighborhoods
and to bring back programs that protect vulnerable senior citizens and scan
children’s irises to provide a foolproof way to identify a child in a kidnap
situation.

“One Strike and You’re
Out,” an initiative dating back to 1988, needs to be revived as well,
Brittingham said.

The program works with
assisted housing authorities to evict those arrested for criminal offenses,
according to Brittingham.

“Crime is rampant in
government housing,” said Brittingham, pointing particularly to drugs and
gangs.

The One Strike program
would allow families to live in peace and safety.

“It’s designed for
families so they don’t have to live in fear,” Brittingham said.

As a patrol sergeant and
an officer who has spent his career on the streets instead of behind a desk,
Brittingham said he sees a need for more deputies on the road in Worcester
County.

“I want people back on
patrol,” he said.

Currently, on each shift
the Sheriff’s office has only two deputies on patrol at one time, with one in
the north and one in the south, each covering about 250 square miles of
territory.

The department has the
deputies, said Brittingham, it’s just that they have been moved to other
assignments, some through personal connections, he contended.

“Any time during the day
you’ll find six or nine deputies in the office,” Brittingham said. “We’ve got
the manpower. They’re assigned to special ‘you’re my friend’ programs. We need
to change that.”

With reassignments
within the department and without hiring new staff, Brittingham said he could
have another deputy on the road every shift, providing more coverage.

He would also reassign
some K-9 officers from the midnight shift, to earlier shifts, he said.

An extra early evening
shift would also allow better coverage, he said.

Brittingham said he
would like to steer the department back to fighting crime, not just pursuing
traffic violations.

“We’re going around
writing citations for revenue for the state of Maryland,” said Brittingham.

Local law enforcement
also needs the tools to address bullying in schools, Brittingham said.

If elected, Brittingham
would eliminate take home patrol cars for deputies living outside the county,
which would save, he said, $38,000 a year, and save wear and tear on vehicles.

Perhaps instead of take home
vehicles, the county could offer a tax incentive for deputies to live in the
county, he proposed.

The Sheriff’s office
website needs to be revamped, Brittingham said, with better access by civilians
to Sheriff’s deputies. The website would allow citizens to report crimes
anonymously, if they fear repercussions.

A blog function on the
website would allow for daily reports on crime and announcements of events,
Brittingham said.

“I feel like the status
quo is not working…I’m afraid if my opponents are elected nothing’s changing,”
Brittingham said.

This week saw the second
shooting in Worcester County in a month, he said, a worrying trend to
Brittingham.

Brittingham noted that
his opponents have both been out of law enforcement for some time, with Mason
only brought back into the Sheriff’s office in the last year to help out while
the current Sheriff dealt with health issues.

That means neither Mason
nor Overholt are up on changes in the law, Brittingham said, such as the rights
of a domestic violence victim to self defense.

With 25 years of working
on the street behind him, Brittingham said if elected that he will not lead
from behind a desk.

“My opponents, I love ‘em. I’ve known ‘em for
years. They have no ideas,” Brittingham said. “I’m pretty confident my ideas
will work if you give them a chance.” 

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