Deputies reject sheriff's claim against union
Aug. 29, 2002
Greg Johnson
Staff Writer




Members of the county's deputies' union have voted to symbolically condemn the leadership of Sheriff Alonzo Black after Black accused union members of undermining the agency.

About 70 members of the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Prince George's County said they supported a vote of "no confidence" against Black during an emergency meeting last week at the county courthouse in Upper Marlboro. The organization opposes Black's campaign for a second term and has publicly endorsed Cpl. Michael Jackson -- Black's opponent and the president of the deputies' union.

Cpl. Ron Terry, vice president of the union, said at the Aug. 22 meeting that union officials were prompted to take this action because of allegations the sheriff made against members of the department. In a Gazette article last week, Black said that about two-dozen disgruntled employees have neglected their duties to foster criticism of the agency and oust him from office.

"We found some of these statements to be disheartening, unfounded and untrue," Terry said.

Black released a statement Monday that claimed the vote against him was politically motivated.

"You do not have to look very deep at this vote to see it is only a move by the union president and union secretary to further their political aspirations," Black stated. "One would only have to ask, why did the union wait until two weeks prior to the election to do a vote of no-confidence when there has not been one single grievance (filed) by the union in my term as sheriff over the past three-and-a-half years?"

Col. Frank Kobilis, assistant sheriff of the Prince George's County Office of the Sheriff, said he supports Black's leadership. Although most deputies are very good employees, Kobilis said, some members of the agency believe that others have allowed problems to persist.

"There has been some animosity in the office for some time," Kobilis said during an interview last week. "The rumor has been (circulating) for some time that this is going on."

Union official Cpl. Steven Reed, however, said that such general accusations are irresponsible and insulting to many hard-working members on the department.

"That does not wash," Reed said about Black's allegations. "I fully feel that he has not only insulted me, he has insulted everyone (on the department)... If we are not doing our jobs, I would like the sheriff to name names."

Reed said that the agency has not investigated a single deputy on the grounds of suspected malingering.

The deputies association is comprised of about 200 members-- including retired employees.

Jackson attended the meeting, but did not participate in the vote.

Jackson and Black are both Democrats and are the only candidates for sheriff. Primary elections are slated for Sept. 10.

E-mail Greg Johnson at gjohnson@gazette.net.