With the aura of strained police and community relations in the atmosphere, four contenders for Prince George’s County Sheriff are running on a basis of pulling the public and the police closer together.
The county’s Sheriff’s Office serves fugitive warrants, executes evictions, serves in the courts, transports prisoners and in some areas, resolves domestic violence and disputes. The Sheriff manages more than 300 deputies who carry out his orders and directives. It also is one of the rare elected positions in the county that is not term-limited.
Right now, Sheriff Melvin C. High is the likely choice. High – a lifelong law enforcement officer and former chief of the Prince George’s County Police and Norfolk, Va. police departments and Assistant Chief for the Metropolitan Police Department – has stayed clear of controversy and generally keeps a low profile. He is well known at popular community events and is accessible to members of the public.
“He is a very smart man,” Hands of Hope Foundation President Patricia Morris told the AFRO. “I like him because he really cares about the community. A lot of people think he could run for a higher office.”
High has not given any indication that he is considering running for a higher office.
Anthony “Tony” Ayers, who recently resigned from his post as chief of the Capitol Heights Police Department, former U.S. Marshall Sylvester Jones, former U.S. Marshall David Grogan, and deputy sheriff Kendal Wade are High’s contenders for the next election.
“I want to rebuild trust between the community and the police,” Ayers told the AFRO, recently. “I think I can make a difference and improve the Sheriff’s Department. When I become chief, all officers will respect residents.”
Ayers is the founder of the Capitol Heights Unity in the Community parade and festival and a nationally recognized figure in the region for his innovative community policing initiatives. He worked in the Sheriff’s Department before becoming chief.
Jones, who finished second to High in 2014, believes the second time around may be the charm. “I do believe I am the best man for the job,” Jones told the AFRO. “I believe I can do a lot of good if I have the opportunity to lead the department. Law enforcement has been my life, but I am also very community conscious.”
He is a former officer in the Army National Guard with more than 25 years of service and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Jones has received recognition and numerous awards during his marshals’ service and army careers. He is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Police Executive Research Forum, National Sheriffs Association, and United States Marshals Association.
According to his website, Grogan is a long time resident of Bowie, Md. and a retired Federal Law Enforcement Agent with more than 24 years of service in addition to six years of active reserve duty with the United States Marine Corps.
“I know I can win and I can do a good job,” Grogan said. “Just watch. We have an opportunity to do something great and we are going to do it.”
The five will face off in the primary election on June 26, 2018.