New sheriff finalizes staff positions, eyes bottom line
Nov. 25, 2002
Greg Johnson
Staff Writer




Incoming Sheriff Michael Jackson is close to naming his command staff and plans to request an official audit of the agency soon to assess its financial condition.

"We need to know manpower [levels]. We need to know equipment. We need to know everything," Jackson said.

Jackson, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff's office, was the president of the deputies' union before he decided to run for sheriff. Jackson, 38, defeated incumbent Sheriff Alonzo Black for the Democratic nomination in September, and won the general election this month without opposition.

Jackson said he wanted to conduct an audit of the agency as early as possible to identify any serious challenges facing his administration.

The current staffing level is about 42 percent below the level it was eight years ago, Jackson said, and the agency has incurred a lot of overtime costs. According to the county budget, the sheriff's office is authorized to spend $750,000 on overtime through the end of June 2003.

"I even know that we are near that already," Jackson said in an interview last week.

The Prince George's County Office of the Sheriff is responsible for court security and serving civil and criminal warrants. It has an authorized staff of 146 sworn deputies and receives $17.2 million in county funds.

According to agency officials, a new state law authorizing commissioners to issue temporary protection orders will create an even larger workload for county deputies.

Jackson said he might ask for a transfer of additional county funds later this year to pay for more overtime expenses.

"It's got to be done in an efficient and a fair manner," Jackson said of overtime spending. "And I'm not sure that is the way it is going now."

Members of the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Prince George's County endorsed Jackson's campaign during the hotly contested election. The race involved bitter exchanges between the organization and supporters of the sheriff, and was interrupted briefly by the shooting deaths of two deputies 11 days before the primary.

A suspect in the shooting, Adelphi resident James Logan, faces murder charges in Prince George's County Circuit Court in Upper Marlboro.

Jackson said he hopes to staff the four assistant sheriff positions from within the agency. Promoting current employees would take advantage of their experiences, Jackson said, and also boost flagging morale.

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