BERLIN – Three local fraternal law enforcement organizations have announced their support for the challenger in this year’s rematch for the top prosecutor job in Worcester, touching off a war of words this week between the candidates.
Last Sunday, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 50 (Worcester) announced it will be officially backing State’s Attorney challenger Beau Oglesby, a Republican who is currently a prosecutor in Caroline County. Additionally, the lodge endorsed Republican Sheriff candidate Reggie Mason, current deputy sheriff in Worcester County, and Republican Delegate candidate Mike McDermott, a member of the Worcester County’s Sheriff’s Office.
In a press release this week, the lodge explained why Oglesby was the pick over incumbent State’s Attorney Joel Todd.
“Beau Oglesby is a proven prosecutor. He has worked with State’s Attorney’s offices in Wicomico and Caroline counties. He has been endorsed by Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis and Worcester County Chief Deputy Sheriff, Reggie Mason, and Caroline County States Attorney Jonathan Newell,” the lodge wrote in a statement. “Beau Oglesby was the chief prosecutor in many of Sheriff Lewis’ drug cases when Sheriff Lewis was a Maryland State Trooper. [He] was recognized by the Wicomico County Drug Task force for his outstanding efforts in prosecuting drug dealers and asset forfeiture. Beau Oglesby has the drive to keep Worcester County safe by prosecuting criminals.”
The lodge did not make an endorsement in the State’s Attorney race in 2006 when Oglesby lost to Todd in one of the closest and spirited elections in Worcester County political history.
That fact is noteworthy, according to Oglesby, who added he has also received the official support of Ocean City, Berlin and the state lodges of the FOP. Oglesby also expects the FOP lodges in Wicomico and Caroline counties to give him their support in the coming weeks.
“This is an endorsement that means something. To dismiss it otherwise would be disrespectful to law enforcement,” Oglesby said. “Four years ago, the Worcester lodge went middle of the road. They sat it out as far as endorsing. Here we are four years later, I get their endorsement. What does that tell you?”
Todd said he was not only disappointed that partisan politics seemed to play a role in the FOP’s endorsement but also that the process that was presented to him did not play out as originally proposed.
“I have learned from a member of the lodge there were a grand total of 11 members of the lodge present and voting the night the endorsement was handed down. I don’t think 11 members is very representative of the law enforcement community in general,” Todd said. “Additionally, I think it’s an example of putting partisan politics over public safety. They have endorsed two other Republicans, both of whom they answer to on a daily basis. I don’t really think it means anything, and I’m sorry to see them put partisan politics ahead of public safety.”
According to Todd, he was still expecting a questionnaire from the lodge as another part of the endorsement process when he read that Oglesby had garnered the lodge’s support online.
“I read it on their Facebook page that they met in September and made an endorsement, and I have yet to receive the questionnaire that the president of the organization assured me I would be receiving,” Todd said. “All I can tell you is, in my opinion, 11 people hardly represents the bulk of county law enforcement.”
Oglesby flatly dismissed Todd’s claims that the endorsement is not representative of the law enforcement community.
“This is a not a few rogue police officers or malcontents who are voicing their displeasure. This is the unanimous support of my candidacy by all of the county FOPs. These are the men and women in law enforcement who are in court day in and day out. Who better to know what’s going on in the court system and how the incumbent and his office is handling criminal cases? Their support is the primary reason why I am running again,” Oglesby said. “If they told me, ‘Beau everything is okay,’ I suspect I would not have run. They reached out to me continually and told me we need a change and that I’m the guy to do it. That’s the primary reason why I continue to come back and run these campaigns.”
Todd stands by his office’s prosecution rate and believes his crackdown on crime is on display every day. Furthermore, Todd said he was not surprised to hear Oglesby’s claims that it’s a signal for change.
“I’m sure he would say that. What I can tell you is I’m not running to be attorney for the FOP or attorney for any police agency. I’m running for re-election as the people’s attorney,” Todd said. “My client is justice, not the police. Unfortunately, from time to time, more often than people realize, I’m called to write letters to police chiefs letting them know when something has gone wrong in the courtroom or during the investigation of the case. On a less frequent basis, we are actually called to do criminal investigations into police officers. If by doing justice, it means I lose support of the police unions than so be it. I sleep well at night knowing I have done what’s in the best interest of justice, and I will continue to do that.”
Oglesby said the officers he speaks with routinely want to see crimes prosecuted fully and for the plea bargains and frequent deals Todd signs off on to come to a halt.
“I think it’s certainly a recognition that they are dissatisfied with the incumbent and the way his office is being run,” Oglesby said. “You have to remember here’s a guy who has been at the State’s Attorney’s office for 25 years now, 16 years a State’s Attorney, and not one FOP or any organized unit of law enforcement supports him.”
Todd said a simple Maryland Judiciary Case Search online confirms Oglesby also agrees to plea bargains in similar cases away from Worcester County.
“It’s not practical to prosecute every case, and he knows it, and it’s proven by what he does in Caroline County,” Todd said.
Todd added there are four current murder prosecutions underway in Worcester County, and voters need to realize these cases will likely go to trial after the election.
“To my knowledge, my opponent still has not tried one murder case,” Todd said. “I’m experienced and knowledgeable on how these cases need to be prosecuted and that’s important to realize.”