While the race for Prince George’s County sheriff hasn’t gotten the attention that other contests have, it has recently taken on a life of its own.
Kendal Wade, a deputy sheriff who is taking on his boss, Prince George’s County Sheriff Melvin High, recently scored a major victory. On March 6, Wade was endorsed by The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 112 for the Prince George’s County Deputy Sheriff’s Association (FOP), with Wade getting 74 percent of the vote, High with 25 percent and the other candidates garnering a combined one percent of the vote.
Needless to say, Wade was pleased with the result.
“This is a significant because I am running against an incumbent and the incumbent didn’t get the endorsement,” Wade told the AFRO. “These are people who work for the sheriff’s office and they know what it is like to work there. To me, it was a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Chief High.”
Wade said his fellow deputy sheriffs “see the vision that I have and they put their support behind me.”
“They are eager to get behind a young leader,” he said.
Earlier this year, Wade received the endorsement of former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.
High has served as sheriff since 2010 and was the county’s chief of police from 2003-2008. He is 74-years-old and has served in law enforcement leadership positions in the District of Columbia and Norfolk, Va., since becoming a patrol officer in 1969 for the District. In addition to Wade, High is facing challenges from former U.S. Marshals David Grogan and Sylvester Jones and former Capitol Heights Police Chief Anthony Ayers.
The office of the sheriff of Prince George’s County was founded in 1696 and is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in Maryland. The sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer for the county and its traditional duties are keeper of the public peace and acting as the enforcement arm of the Prince George’s County court system.
The duties of the sheriff include law enforcement services of the two county courthouses and surrounding property, service of court-ordered warrants, writs, protective orders, and other injunctions, and limited patrol responsibility with county police officers. The Domestic Violence Unit has expanded its role in the county to include responding to calls for service that are domestic-related. The creation of the School Resource Deputy division has placed a deputy sheriff at all of the county’s high schools, replacing the county police.
The sheriff’s term is for four years and the Democratic primary takes place on June 26. The winner of that contest will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. The Democratic primary winner is likely to be the favorite in the general election because Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in the county.
Wade is a native of the District of Columbia and is a graduate of Largo High School. He is presently working on a bachelor’s degree in leadership at Johns Hopkins University. Wade is currently the chairman of the Young Democrats of Maryland Public Safety Caucus and was recognized by Black Enterprise magazine in 2016 as “Mr. Public Safety.” He and his family attend the City of Praise Family Ministries church in Landover, Md.
Wade said the FOP endorsement will likely lead to other significant support.
“The fact that I won the FOP’s support will signal to the other public safety unions, such as the police, fire and corrections organizations to follow suit,” he said.
High hasn’t publicly commented on the endorsement but Grogan, who is also vying for the job, had plenty to say.
“The endorsement isn’t a surprise to me,” Grogan told the AFRO. “I know Kendal Wade is a political operative and I know factually that he is incumbent High’s ‘field director’.” The FOP endorsement was very predictable.”
Grogan said Wade’s transgressions as a deputy sheriff, citing a shooting of an unarmed citizen, has been a cover-up instituted by High himself and the two men are working together covertly. In October 2014, Wade was cited in media reports for the shooting death of Michael Minor and was placed on administrative leave by the sheriff’s office during the investigation.
The grand jury investigated the case and decided not to pursue charges against Wade.
“The strategy is to use Wade to divide the vote so that High can get re-elected,” Grogan said.
“If High gets re-elected, it will be business as usual.”