Prince George's County Sheriff Don E. Ansell, indicated last October on charges of misappropriation of funds, perjury and filing false tax returns, last week asked the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly for a $4,500 raise.
With his silver sheriff's star prominently displayed on his chest, Ansell testified at a public hearing before the delegation and more than 60 uniformed deputies. The deputies had been urged to attend by Ansell in a memo circulated throughout the sheriff's department last week "strongly" suggesting "that all members, except those necessary to operate the sheriff's department for that period of time, appear at this hearing in uniform so the delegation will recognize our concern."
Ansell, who also supported a raise to $27,000 a year for his two assistant sheriffs - one of whom, Assistant Sheriff Guy T. Williams, is also under indictment - told the delegation that "captains inthe department are making more money (through cost-of-living increases) than the assistant sheriffs. Within a year, the captains will be within $300 of the sheriff's pay." Ansell currently makes $25,500 a year.
Ansell spoke on behalf of the bill, which would not take effect until after the November election. He also discussed another bill that he asked Del. Robert Redding to introduce. It would allow all members of the sheriff's department to negotiate with the county for salary and working conditions. Currently sheriff's department personnel, including civilian employees, are paid by the county but are not included in the county's personnel system. Ansell's bill would continue to exclude them from the county system.
Three proposals, including Ansell's, were discussed at the hearing in an effort to clear up the jurisdictional question raised recently after the department o corrections was removed fromthe jurisdiction of the sheriff's department. At that time, Ansell fired more than 120 employees who found they were lost in a "limbo-land" between state and, county remedies to prevent the dismissals.
Kenneth Glover, assistant to the county administrative officer, supported the county's bill, which would all put sheriff's department employees, except the two assistant sheriffs, in the county personnel system for salary, fringe benefit and promotion purposes. Deputy sheriffs, however, would continue to come under the law enforcement officer's bill of rights for disciplinary or grievance procedures.
Glover said Ansell's proposal for binding arbitration wouldn't work "because he has no control of themoney. The sheriff could bargain with them for a raise and benefits, but he couldn't bind the county to an agreement like that. He has no control of the dollars that come into his shop and can only suggest the budget."
Del. B.W. Mike Donovan also introduced a bill that would put the sheriff's employees under the county labor code.
James Hubbard, president of the deputy Sheriffs' Association, said his group, whose membership includes 72 of the 120 deputies in the department, supports the county's position.
"Before 1975 we were included under the county's personnel merit system," Hubbard testified. "But Ansell got a bill passed that year that took us out of the system.We no longer fell under it for grievance purposes and were left up to the whim of the sheriff."
The strongest opposition from Hubbard, however, came over Ansell's request for a raise.
"The sheriff of Prince George's County is already the highest paid sheriff in the state of Maryland," Hubbard said. "And since the Department of Corrections has been created, 60 percent of his duties have been taken away. There has been no pay raise in Prince george's for the deputy sheriffs for four years."
Samuel Wynkoop, deputy county administrative officer, said his office couldn't support Ansell's request "because of the budgetary situation. If his (Ansell's) responsibiliteis had been increased, he would clearly warrant an increase in pay. But since his responsibiliteis have been curtailed, it seems inappropriate for him to get a raise at this time. That has to be part of the consideration."
Several members of the delegation said they were "surprised" at Ansell's request. "You have to leave it to Ansell for sheer gall," said Del. Gerard Devlin.
Five members of Ansell's staff - who were elected for each department after the memo distributed by Ansell "encouraged" his people "to elect one representative from each section to speak on behalf of the personnel in that section" - supported the sheriff's proposals. But one deputy, asked on his way into the building why he was attending the meeting, said "I'm here because my boss told me to be here."