Letter to the Editor: Vote for Ted Belleavoine for St. Mary’s Sheriff

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 Vote for Ted Belleavoine for St. Mary’s Sheriff

TO THE EDITOR:

My name is Shane Cameron (no relation to Sheriff Tim Cameron). I am writing this letter to endorse Ted Belleavoine for Sheriff. I was born and raised in St. Mary’s County. For four years I served proudly as a St. Mary’s County Deputy; Ted was my supervisor for a short time before he retired. Shortly after I was hired, I began to hear stories about the toxic environment within SMCSO. I was told to keep my head down and to avoid making waves at all costs. “This is the good ol’ boy” system, I was told. “Rub someone the wrong way, you’ll have a target on your back forever.” I was repeatedly warned not to advocate for myself or my brothers in blue to anyone in the administration.

Daily, I listened as the overwhelming majority of my coworkers expressed their frustrations about the dangerous work environment caused by Sheriff Cameron. We walked on eggshells, we were hesitant to make decisions – any decisions — because of fear of backlash, and we were anxious that even the smallest of mistakes would cost us our jobs. We saw this happen again and again as our numbers dwindled and the agency was consistently losing deputies to other agencies or to termination over minor or fabricated offenses.

SWAT Team St. Mary’s Sheriff

Since I was a child, I knew that not only did I want to serve as a law enforcement officer, but that I wanted to do so in the county I loved and was raised. That dream came true in 2012. During my time with SMCSO, I became a member of the Emergency Services Team and a Field Training Officer. Despite hard work and deep commitment to the community, I too fell victim to Sheriff Cameron’s regime.  I was finally faced with the day that I and my coworkers feared so much; I was accused of something I did not do. Following an accusation that I lied, I provided irrefutable evidence to the Sheriff’s Office. It fell on deaf ears. I requested a polygraph examination. This, too, was denied.

I am speaking to you, citizens of St. Mary’s. You are affected by this in ways you may not even realize yet, and I am concerned for your safety. The current state of the SMCSO directly impacts the quality of service provided to you. There is sometimes one deputy responsible for the entire lower half of the county. Even for a true emergency, the response time is inadequate. Supervisors sometimes give orders that are direct violations of your rights. I was once ordered to take a citizen from her home in handcuffs for an emergency evaluation even though she did not meet the criteria. On behalf of the citizen, a co-worker questioned the lawfulness of this to Lt. Eva Jones and was threatened with an insubordination charge. I ask you, how will you feel if you or your family requires an emergency response, but there are not enough deputies to get to you? If you or a loved one is taken to a hospital for evaluation unlawfully, and everyone who could stand up for what is right is silenced?

Ted Belleavoine is the change that St. Mary’s County needs. He cares deeply about his community and our law enforcement alike. He has plans to combat the low morale within SMCSO, increase retention and recruitment of deputies, and make sure you and your loved ones don’t have to wait for help when help can’t wait. Please join me in voting for a change this November. Vote Belleavoine.

Shane Cameron

Mechanicsville, Maryland

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