BY KEN ROSSIGNOL
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
NEWS AND COMMENTARY
LEONARDTOWN, MD. Finding a worthwhile successor among his staff has been a problem for St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron. While in uniform and packing a sidearm, Assistant Sheriff John Horne showed up at a St. Mary’s Commissioner’s budget meeting and chewed out the Board for failing to rubber-stamp the Sheriff’s budget request. Horne’s angry and threatening behavior resulted in St. Mary’s Commissioner President Randy Guy ordering Cameron never again to let Horne attend a commissioner’s meeting. Guy told Cameron bluntly, “Keep him out of our meetings.”
Not long afterward, Horne retired, and the expected replacement, Captain Daniel Alioto, suddenly resigned after being told he would be demoted to the rank of corporal following the alleged discovery of lying during an official investigation. The investigation referenced whether or not Captain Alioto placed transponders on suspects’ vehicles, which came to light during discovery involving criminal defendants.
Replacing Horne was difficult for Cameron as the top bench of his commanders was filled with deputies who either were not held in high esteem by the Sheriff or had floated to the top of the Good Old Boys Club mainly due to perseverance and perhaps not too much talent.
As a result, Cameron picked Mike Merican, the tag-team Bonzo of the bar scene in Ocean City conventions of jail personnel from across Maryland. Merican pushed for a correctional officer to be fired for assault, and Cameron went along with it despite the existence of the bar video showing that the assault didn’t occur. But the video showed Merican in lots of sloshy hugging and smooching. Cameron made Merican his new Assistant Sheriff.
The two were well known to each other in their old road patrol days in Lexington Park when Cameron was the road corporal, and Merican was shooting dogs in the Norris Road community as he gave chase to suspects.
Sheriff Cameron ran for a third term in 2018 when he was forced to purge his command ranks of Alioto, who was believed to be the next assistant sheriff, and then run for Sheriff. In an interview with THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY, Cameron was asked why he was running for an unprecedented fourth term; he began stumbling and fumbling for words, settling on the fact that he needed to plan for a successor. Cameron is believed to be eyeing a big job and anxious to leave his present post. Thus he began grooming Capt. Steven Hall.
Cameron promised in 2006 that he would release the State Prosecutors’ Report on The Loot Scandal once he took office. Cameron never kept the promise but during a debate in 2006, he dinged Sheriff Zylak for failing to take action against two deputies implicated in the theft of over $80,000 in property. Cameron has continued the practice of allowing those who commit crimes in his agency to retire or resign.
In December of 2020, Cameron removed the police powers of Sgt. Bill Raddatz and assigned him to answer the phones at the new Sheriff building on Great Mills Road until he retired six months later. Raddatz, without the public being given the information as to what his transgressions were to be fired as a cop, now works for the St. Mary’s Drug Court.
Hall is a pleasant fellow and likely just the kind of law officer who would feel safe in visiting businesses, speaking to church and fraternal groups urging folks to lock up their cars, and using caution in parking lots to avoid becoming a victim of crime. As far as being a leader and effective at inspiring his deputies to give excellent service, Hall just doesn’t cut it. His experience in leading a special operations team that fired high-powered rounds into a home in the Wildwood neighborhood demonstrates a remarkable lack of judgment. The promise of Sheriff Cameron to provide a complete investigation and report to the public never happened.
Thus, Cameron’s last gasp hope to determine who would serve as Sheriff after his term expires later this year is quickly slipping away. The public knows about the shooting that nearly struck a baby in its crib; the public knows about Cameron’s promise to provide a full report, noting that he was ‘mortified.’
Now that there are two opponents for Cameron’s hand-picked designated survivor, both are sounding off about the increasingly violent crime in Lexington Park with drive-by shootings and gangs firing at each other on Pegg Road. Cameron has begun preaching those candidates running against his stooge shouldn’t stoke the ‘fear of crime’ in a campaign.
Cameron’s campaign ads and statements in the 2006 election when he ran against incumbent Sheriff David Zylak carried the same theme and almost identical wording as GOP candidates John O’Connor and Todd Fleenor. Noting that crime was up 15% in one ad, as a reason voters should select Tim Cameron and dump Dave Zylak.
It is time for Lame Duck Tim to quit quacking and let the election be determined by the voters analyzing the candidates in the race.