The subject was the audit of the 287g program.
Frederick, Md (KM). There were some heated moments during Wednesday night’s Frederick County Counsel meeting.
Sheriff Chuck Jenkins had an exchange with Councilman Kai Hagen. Both were talking about a meeting last year where Hagen asked the Sheriff some questions about the program. Jenkins accused Hagen of being rude during that meeting. “I asked some questions politely. And the meeting was called because I had a bunch of questions; not because I was being rude. Anybody can watch if they want. And I’ll leave it at that. But you are lying,” Hagen responded.
“I got some words for you, too, Councilman,” Sheriff Jenkins responded.
That’s when Council President MC Keegan-Ayer intervened. “We do not call each other names. We have a civility code,” she said. “Please allow the Sheriff to speak Mr. Hagen.”
The Sheriff was allowed to continue his comments He defended the program, and attacked the opponents who called for this audit. “Now over a year later, $20,000 spent , is proving that the audit wasn’t necessary. A total waste of taxpayer dollars, in my view, simply to appease a small a group of people, detractors, who don’t like immigration enforcement, who don’t like the program and can’t accept the fact that it’s a very successful and highly effective public safety program,” Jenkins said.
Councilman Hagen had this response. “It’s not just a handful of people. It’s thousands of people who have different levels of concern and interest, and you can treat like them like intelligent, decent, reasonable, human beings who have concerns instead of like the enemy,” he said.
The 287g is a federal program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under an agreement with ICE, the Sheriff’s Office can determine the immigration status of suspects taken into custody by deputies and brought to the Detention Center. If they are here illegally, they can be turned over to ICE, and be deported.
The program has been controversial since it was implemented in Frederick Jocundly. The Sheriff says it’s helped rid the county of more than 1500 criminals. He also says the immigration status is determined at the Detention Center. But critics say deputies pull over individuals who may be in the US illegally. Jenkins denies that.
Earlier this year, County Executive Jan Gardner ordered an independent, outside audit to be conducted on the 287g program. The auditors found that the county only spends about $9,000 of its money on the program, and that’s for expenses such as use of county vehicles, gasoline, hotels and meals when correctional officers go out of town for training. Jenkins says those figures match the information he has.
“I was accused of spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money on the program. I was accused of misappropriation, misuse of county funds, embezzlement and theft of county funds,” says the Sheriff. “It was nothing more than a political attack on me and you know that.”
Councilman Hagen said the Sheriff viciously attacks he and others who raise questions about the 287g program. “To make broad, generalized, assumptions, statements and accusations with no foundation: I’m a radical socialist. I’m in favor of open borders. That I’m anti-law enforcement, non support of public safety. None of that is true,”: he said.
The Council accepted the conclusion of the outside audit report,. But members said they have no authority under Maryland law to terminate the program in Frederick County.
By Kevin McManus