2020 gubernatorial dossier: Law Enforcement/Judicial

This is the third part of a series taking a deeper dive into various important topics in the 2020 Delaware gubernatorial election. On the 100-point scale I am using to grade candidates, law enforcement and judicial are worth 9 points.

This section of the dossier has been revised and updated to reflect the general election field.

These will be presented in the order of Republican, Libertarian, Independent Party of Delaware (IPoD), and Democrat, who in all cases are incumbents.

Julianne Murray (R)

I didn’t have anything for Julianne until the day before I did this originally, when she remarked, “As your next Governor, I will never play politics with our public safety and I will never defund our police. The police will have a Governor who they can rely upon to give them the tools they need to do their job and the public support they have earned.”

She added, “I will not support liberal policies that are causing massive retirements of officers here in Delaware. They are retiring because they don’t believe they have backing from the top. Like you, I don’t want 911 calls to go unanswered.”

Since then she’s added the obvious, that she sides with police over the rioters but believes bad cops should be “weeded out.” Overall, it’s a relatively safe answer worth 5 points out of 9.

John Machurek (L)

Machurek has promised on social media to review prisoners and enact criminal justice reform and cannabis legalization. In a previous political run he also vowed to end “no knock” warrants; on the other hand, he is against capital punishment and enforcement of federal immigration laws by state and local police. So he gets just 1.5 points out of 9.

Kathy DeMatteis (IPoD)

So far all I have been able to glean out of Kathy is her avocation for family court reform in order to make it more equitable for all concerned. I’ll give her 1 point out of 9 despite being dubious about what is not equal.

John Carney (incumbent D)

Carney’s full 2016 proposal is here. In that he noted:

“We need to deploy our resources with more of a focus on keeping dangerous, violent criminals off our streets. We also need to shift toward rehabilitating non-violent offenders and helping them become employed and productive members of society. Even more important is preventing our young people from turning to a life of crime in the first place.”

Given the recent “peaceful protests” in Wilmington and Dover that turned into rioting, looting, and property damage, it’s apparent Carney has not followed through. So he gets 0 points out of 9.

Updating the standings, we have a new leader, although none of them are setting this competition on fire: Murray 6, Machurek 4.5, DeMatteis 3.5, Carney 0.

This was actually a category where I deferred to the candidates and their views. Aside from enforcing the law fairly and appointing judges who will properly interpret the law according to the federal and state constitutions, I don’t have a really specific “ask” in this category. The next one is slated to be education.

Supporting the thin blue line

Update: the event has been bumped back to Saturday, January 10 due to the predicted weather.

First of all: a happy new year to all my readers, near and far.

I’m going to be curious how well this does. It’s not often I talk about events from “north of the border” but the 9-12 Delaware Patriots are holding a rally to support law enforcement:

The statewide 9-12 Delaware Patriots, a grassroots, non-partisan, Constitutionalist group has voiced concern with recent developments across the country concerning race relations and law enforcement, said Executive Director Karen Gritton.

On January 4th this community group will show their support for the Rule of Law and for those who protect and defend our Constitutional rights by organizing a peaceful rally on Route 13 just south of the Dover Mall. Citizens are encouraged to join the 9-12 Delaware Patriots and other like-minded groups to show their support for local law enforcement. Participants will assemble at 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and signs of support are encouraged. Many will be wearing blue to show their support.

The 9-12 Delaware Patriots focuses on protecting the individual Constitutional rights of all people regardless of their differences and will use this opportunity to show their appreciation for the dedication and bravery of local law enforcement. The 9-12 Delaware Patriots encourages an open dialogue between religious leaders, community leaders, and local law enforcement toward peaceful progress and improved race relations.

Regular meetings of the 9-12 Delaware Patriots are held the first Tuesday of the month in Dover, DE and the second Thursday of each month in Millsboro, DE.

Something tells me this will indeed be a relatively peaceful protest, unlike those who disrupted the Salisbury Christmas Parade to make their point (and were arrested for their trouble.)

Yet here we are again, talking about a divide in society as I complained about last year. And this 9-12 Delaware Patriots demonstration comes at a time when police are openly being targeted for assassination after the New York incident where two police officers were murdered in cold blood by a Baltimore man, who also shot his ex-girlfriend before going to New York and eventually killing himself after gunning down the police officers. Simply put, there’s little respect for the law (or societal mores, as these incidents demonstrate) anymore in some quarters.

Yet a good deal of that lack of respect for law enforcement comes from the libertarian side, too. While the group Cop Block has gone out of its way to note they don’t support the murder of police officers, it’s painted as representative of a segment of society which undermines the authority of law enforcement officers. Naturally, there are some who abuse their privilege as officers of the law and too many times lately tragedies have occurred. But the first rule of a police officer is simply to make it home alive, and being on hair trigger alert because some in aggrieved communities talk openly about “putting wings on pigs” is probably going to lead to many more innocent lives lost.

Figuring out whose hands the blood is on is important to the families who lost loved ones, but for the rest of us it’s a matter for a legal system that is already far too overburdened. So let’s see if we can make this the year we all take a couple steps back from the brink, inhale a deep breath, and try to begin fixing the real problems: respecting authority while making authority worthwhile of respect. Both sides need a crash course.

Two planks to question

On Wednesday I announced that Joe Ollinger had entered the race for Wicomico County Executive, with a followup post on Thursday regarding his platform. It’s a platform which dealt extensively with the subjects of fiscal responsibility and education and included two interesting planks:

  • Empower the County Executive to appoint the county’s school board, which is one of the few remaining with members appointed by the governor. Most Maryland counties have adopted an elected school board.
  • Create one county-wide law enforcement agency, consolidating the efforts of the existing Sheriff’s Department with existing municipal police forces in Salisbury, Fruitland, and Delmar.

As you may or may not know, the Wicomico County Republican Party (the one Ollinger is supposedly a part of) has made its case for electing (as opposed to appointing) the Wicomico County board of education; a case similar to one I made back in March.

Yet Ollinger is trying to shift a system which depends on input from a Governor’s office generally at odds with the people of Wicomico County and artificially rigged to reflect a majority of the party holding that office to one which would perhaps better reflect the will of the people based on who they elected County Executive but still not directly accountable to the electorate – sort of a half-step solution which combines the worst of both worlds. Perhaps it’s a plank which Joe can be made to reconsider if and when he’s elected because, while he may hold conservative educational values, it would certainly make the teachers’ union more of a player than it already is for the County Executive race – they would have a direct stake in the outcome.

As a Republican Party we believe an elected school board is the way to go and, unlike a GOP Congress which was forced to carry water for some of President Bush’s ill-considered ideas, neither our central commitee nor Republicans on County Council (or outside conservative groups like AFP) may sit quietly and allow Ollinger to proceed with his scheme.

Similarly, the fiefdoms which are the various local municipal police departments may not be willing to have themselves absorbed into the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department. While these departments work together on a regular basis, the logistics of such a change need to be studied carefully and most likely placed on a timetable beyond the term of the County Executive – I think such a process if undertaken would take at least five years to adopt from initial planning to final outcome. There’s also the risk of alienating bargaining units like the Fraternal Order of Police and assuredly the Maryland State Police may have to have some say as well.

In truth, we may find that the assumed efficiencies in combining departments are outweighed by unforseeable costs or a lack of coverage of rural areas as municipalities would be especially cognizant of reduced patrols and complain if the crime rate increases.

I know that there are already shared resources between local law enforcement agencies, and perhaps Joe will elaborate further on the subject as the election draws near. But it’s a plank certain to draw as much attention as his educational ideas, which can be taken at face value for what they are worth. There’s little doubt who the educational lobby in this county will support so Joe needs to take his case above them and to the people.