SEABROOK – As the June primary is less than a month away, Prince George’s County residents will need to choose soon between the six candidates for county sheriff. The candidates for Prince George’s County sheriff are Anthony Ayers, Dave Grogan, Melvin High, Sylvester Jones Sr., Percy Reeder Sr. and Kendal Wade. High is the sitting […]
SEABROOK – As the June primary is less than a month away, Prince George’s County residents will need to choose soon between the six candidates for county sheriff.
The candidates for Prince George’s County sheriff are Anthony Ayers, Dave Grogan, Melvin High, Sylvester Jones Sr., Percy Reeder Sr. and Kendal Wade. High is the sitting sheriff and is currently completing his second term.
As all of the registered candidates are Democrats, the June 26 primary will likely determine the county’s next sheriff.
Ayers said during his tenure as deputy sheriff, he noticed the office struggled with efficiency. He wants to improve this matter. He also wants to “cross train” the deputies in the department so they can inform the people in the houses they respond to about resources in the community, such as job announcements and food pantries, they can access to help with their situations that may lead to more legal trouble.
“The officers are not social workers, but we should be the first responders and understand what is out there and what are the available resources,” Ayers said.
This approach, he said, is a means of being proactive about reducing crime and potential challenges in communities.
Ayers said that as sheriff he would emphasize collaboration with other entities in the county and other agencies.
Ayers has served as deputy chief of police and chief of police of Capitol Heights, as well as a member of the Prince George’s County Police Department and Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Department.
As sheriff, Grogan would concentrate on the department’s relationship with the public.
“I would do what I can do to restore public trust in and the respect of public safety and law enforcement,” Grogan said.
He has three main priorities for accomplishing this objective. If elected sheriff, he would call for the resignation of any deputy sheriffs who “shot and killed or caused bodily harm” to an unarmed county resident. He would also reevaluate the hiring and training processes of the department. The third component of the plan is to create more youth programs so that young people interested in the department have role models they can look up to.
Grogan spent 25 years with the United States Marshal Service as a supervisory deputy United States Marshal. He has worked with the Federal Witness Protection Program as well as with the Capital Area Fugitive Task Force. He currently oversees security with a company in the private sector.
High is the incumbent in this race, hoping for a third term as sheriff. He said he would like to continue the work the department has accomplished under his leadership. He is particularly proud of working in collaboration with the county administration to reduce crime and violence in the county over the last eight years.
High also wants to continue raising awareness about domestic violence.
“I think the county has made great strides, but we still have ways to go regarding addressing domestic violence,” High said.
In addition to educating victims about resources available to them and how to extract themselves from dangerous situations, High would like to have more education opportunities for abusers to “break their cycle of abuse.”
High has previously served as chief of police for Prince George’s County, chief of police for Norfolk, Virginia, and assistant chief of police of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.
Sylvester Jones Sr.
Jones has several main priorities he would focus on as sheriff: school security, department growth and community engagement. He wants to work with the county police department to have more school resource officers at elementary and middle schools. Jones envisions the sheriff’s department becoming twice its current size. This could be achieved through gradual, incremental growth, he said.
Jones would like to further connect with the local communities through town forums. He’s interested in visiting schools every week and establishing positive relationships with the schools and students. He is an advocate for community policing and would like to collaborate with other members of the law enforcement community to grow community policing in the county.
“I think there’s a challenge for organizations to come together, work together and partner with communities and community leaders so we can hear their concerns,” Jones said.
He worked as a police officer with the Markham Police Department in Illinois and later joined the United States Marshals Service as a deputy U.S. Marshal. After numerous appointments with the U.S. Marshals, Jones was promoted to the senior executive staff.
Wade is interested in examining how external situations such as unemployment and domestic violence affect the sheriff office’s services internally.
His priorities would include expanding the “manpower” of the sheriff’s department “without being a burden on the taxpayer.” He is also interested in enhancing school security through placing metal detectors in schools and stationing more officers in education buildings. Furthermore, he would like to see an emphasis on mental health by creating an early warning system to identify and help people who are being bullied or discriminated against.
Additionally, Wade would like to establish a better relationship with the community. He envisions a “new social contract between public safety and law enforcement” to regain trust.
Wade is a sworn Maryland law enforcement officer and chairman of the Young Democrats of Maryland Public Safety Caucus.
Percy Reeder Sr.
Reeder did not respond to an interview request.
This article is part of a series.