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Top job for longtime Md. deputy sheriff

Dan Morse

Montgomery County voters elected Darren Popkin yesterday as Democratic candidate for sheriff.

Popkin has served for more than 10 years as chief deputy to Montgomery's long-time sheriff, Raymond Kight, who earlier decided to retire after six terms. No Republicans ran for the office, according to the county's board of elections.

Based on voting results posted early this morning, Popkin received 44 percent of the vote, ahead of Edward Clarke (29 percent), Tom Falcinelli Jr. (17 percent) and Norman Brissett (10 percent).

Kight had endorsed Popkin.

In Montgomery, the sheriff's office has fewer law enforcement duties than it does in many other jurisdictions. Citizens are more apt to come in contact with an officer from the county's police department.

The sheriff's office also does not run the jails, as it does in other jurisdictions. Among the office's key functions: Serving court papers, guarding courtrooms and courthouses and tracking down fugitives.

In recent years, the office has tried to take on a more active law enforcement bent: Helping set up a family law unit, for example. On his campaign website, Popkin touted this trend:

All Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff's are now trained at the Montgomery County Public Safety Academy and certified as police officers by the Maryland Police Training Commission. The Sheriff's Office SWAT team, K-9 explosive detection teams, and hostage negotiators deploy throughout the county in cooperation with the Montgomery County Police Department. Our deputies now serve in major regional Federal, State and County law enforcement task forces including the U.S. Marshal Service's Capitol Area Regional Fugitive Task Force (CARFTF), and the Police Department's Firearms and Gang Task Forces.

-- Dan Morse

By Dan Morse  |  September 15, 2010; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse , Montgomery , Politics  
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Dan Morse is a fine writer who does his homework. The election commnentary and discussion of Darren Popkin and the work of the Sheriff's Department was accurate and very informative. I seek to offer a few additional notes in conjunction with the fine article written by Dan Morse.

In this country Sheriff's Departments operate about 2/3rd's of the nation's jails. The remaining third are managed as departments of county government under the County Executive or County Commissioners. Neither organizational methodology is right or wrong. It depends upon the quality and interest of the manager and the attention and support given to this very critical public safety function. In Montgomery County the Jail and Correctional System is operating as a department of County Government but the Sheriff provides core security services that are critical for day to day public safety. Virtually 98% of secure prisoner movement is conducted by Sheriff's deputies including all court movement and the vasr majority of very dangerous medical movements to hospitals and isolated physician locations and specialty treatment functions demanded by constitutional practice. Sheriff Ray Kight and his professional Deputies handle prisoner transport is a superb manner - it is never something to be avoided or minimized or conducted as an afterthought to other tasks - it is something they do very well and literally without security breach which is well known by the thousands of inmates they have transported. Their movement and security of prisoners in the courtrooms and in the community on transport is exemplary. I have worked with Sheriff Kight and Chief Deputy Popkin for 11 years and never once have they failed to engage this often unknown aspect of public safety operations with superior skill and deep concern for community safety. Whether it was the Sniper Trial and 18 months of special transports followed by the daly rigor of the trial itself or the transport of lesser charged prisoners to a local hospital to save a life and diminish taxpayer liability they handle it with skill and safety.This area of practice happens thousands of times a year. An escape ends any discussion of "not important" and in Montgomery County this is a zero tolerance issue for the Sheriff - we could not be better served.

Their focus on public safety is exemplary and special projects like the Family Justice Center (focus of Domestic Violence and Victim/family support and assistance) speaks to the professionalism of the Kight years as Sheriff and the leadership that will follow after his departure. Nothing less would be tolerated by the professional men and women who work for the Office of the Sheriff. It is an honor to work with them. I might write the same words about the Montgomery County Police but the present article by Dan Morse focused on Chief Deputy Darren Popkin and the Office of the Sheriff. Respectfully, Arthur Wallenstein, Director, Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (1999-Present

Posted by: arthurwallenstein | September 15, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

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