Sheriff on Defunding

** Please note that since this email went out, Councilmen Divillio, Callahan and Lesher have called me and apologized for their support of the letter. I truly believe that they did not fully comprehend what they were supporting! ***

This is an email I sent to my team after Tuesday nights County Council meeting. Our citizens should know where their Council stands on supporting police across this nation.

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Sheriff’s Deputies,

I watched in disbelief as our County Council voted 4 -1 to send a letter of support to our congressional delegation in support of H.R. 7120, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. Attached is the letter signed by Council President Pack.

Divillio, Callahan, Lesher and Pack voted in support.

Council Woman Laura Price was the lone “NO” vote. I commend her for her courage.

As elected officials the council had no duty to seek my thoughts or advice. None of them probably knows that I have been accepted as an expert in Maryland Courts in the area of Police Policy, and not one probably knows that I have been accepted in Maryland Courts as an expert in the area of Use of Force and investigations of same. Not one probably knows that I am one of a hand full of chiefs and sheriff’s handpicked to sit on the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission. To be clear, NOT ONE ASKED me to weigh in, or give any advice on this bill that they voted to support. It appears that they could care less what their elected Sheriff has to say about any of it. It appears that they care more about their political agendas, or maybe they are just scared to face the mob. I know that each of you stand ready to face the mob and would even protect these nervous souls if the need would arise.

Maybe they have some expertise that I am unaware of?

Maybe none of them know that the last person shot by the police in Talbot County was shot by a Natural Resources Police Officer after he was shot at by a white man who fired at them first. Maybe they don’t know that no one from this office has had a brutality complaint lodged against them since I have been here. Maybe they don’t know that there hasn’t been an African American person shot or killed by the police in Talbot County in the 30 years that I have lived here.

Maybe they just don’t care, at this point I really don’t know what the hell they are thinking.

While there are things in this bill that deserve support, as is the same with other bills proposed.

Here is a list of things unique to this bill that will destroy policing.

No drug no-knock warrants at the federal level and funding conditions basically banning them at the state and local level. I am guessing that none have any idea of the planning and scrutiny that goes into obtaining and serving such a warrant. Obviously their political agenda is more important than our safety. We have been there, we know what it takes, but I guess they don’t care about our opinion!

Changes in the deadly force laws (set by the Supreme Court not by a county council) from what is “reasonable” to what is “necessary”. The council has no idea what that means but each of you do. As you know I have investigated over 150 use of force cases, the question is and should always be was it “reasonable” to a trained police officer. The “necessary” standard is a Monday morning quarterbacking thing…once the investigation is done and it is realized that the bad guys gun was actually unloaded then the use of deadly force could be deemed “unnecessary”.

Changes to make it easier to prosecute you will be amended from “willfulness” to “recklessness”. They have no idea what that means but you do. Did the officer willfully break the law should always be the standard. I have arrested a number of police officers and had no problem meeting the willfulness standard. Again, this erodes any protections on police officers acting in good faith.

Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when a law enforcement officer violates their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement. Your council has no idea that under current law if you violated some ones rights that you can already be sued personally. But this new proposal will strip all protections even if you act appropriately. You will have to hire your own attorney and pay for that attorney. I wonder if the council will strip themselves of their qualified immunity. Maybe they also want to strip EMS, CORRECTIONS, our FIREMEN of this doctrine.

Qualified Immunity

In the United States, the doctrine of qualified immunity grants government officials performing discretionary functions immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the official violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known”. It is a form of sovereign immunity less strict than absolute immunity that is intended to protect officials who “make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions”, extending to “all [officials] but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law”. Qualified immunity applies only to government officials in civil litigation, and does not protect the government itself from suits arising from officials’ actions.

I have no idea who they think will police this county going forward. For almost 6 years I have been able to say to each of you that our county council supports law enforcement and support you. Today, I can’t say that. Each of you and this whole county need to know who our council supports and who they don’t. Rest assured each council person will be receiving this email today. I stand united with you to fight these ridiculous politically correct garbage.

Let me be perfectly clear, there are reforms that should be supported! But this bill is horrendous!

Rest assured that the remainder of my term here will be spent fighting for our citizens and you.

You have my respect and admiration for getting up today and pinning that badge on your chest and risking your life at night while many timid and cowardly souls sleep.

Sheriff Joe Gamble