“Criminals should not have rights, that’s what ‘tough on crime’ means.”Todd Fleenor at the candidates forum in Lexington Park on June 15, 2022
LEONARDTOWN, MD – The race for Sheriff in St. Mary’s County is all in the GOP Primary to be held on July 19, 2022. It is being contested by three candidates, one of which, Todd Fleenor, jumped into the race after putting in his retirement to possibly keep from being fired for misconduct.
Fleenor campaigns on the theme that complaints are to be expected when the community gets a good dose of ‘tougher on crime.’ And he also complains that the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department, under the administration of Sheriff Tim Cameron, undermines morale and keeps the steady path of deputies leaving for other agencies full of exiting officers.
Fleenor has good reasons to take the above stances in his campaign, as his ‘retirement’ was prompted by a complaint and disciplinary action that likely included being terminated.
Personnel records of the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department reveal the following: “On February 25, 2022, you were on duty and conducting a supervisory Ride-Along, with a new probationary officer. You responded to Action Lounge and Billiards in Leonardtown. While you and a number of your subordinates were there, an unrelated arrest took place wherein at least two additional assaults were reported to you directly. A preponderance of evidence exists to support you failed to actively manage the scene and to direct subordinates to attempt to locate those assault victims, identify and collect evidence and investigate those alleged crimes.
The charges were sustained by the investigation on March 30, 2022.
The record shows that Fleenor retired in Lieu of Discipline.
Also, on March 30, 2022, Fleenor was issued a written reprimand for using his Sheriff’s Department email account to participate in the Garage Poker Series gambling operation operated by Orphans Court Judge Michael White and his son, Maryland State Police Lt. George White.
Records obtained by THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY of the participants in the illegal gambling operation show that Deputy Stephen Simonds and Todd Fleenor used their agency emails and did so from as far back as 2017. Sheriff’s disciplinary records show that using the email by the two deputies poorly reflected on the agency, and a written reprimand was issued to Fleenor by Major Mike Merican.
January 7, 2022, was another day that Fleenor had the payroll clock running backward when an incident was sustained in which he failed to properly supervise his deputies under his command when they used force in extracting a suspect from a vehicle that was involved in an assault. The incident was not reported by Fleenor and cost him twenty-four hours of pay.
In May of 2021, Fleenor was charged with failing to report the use of force by a deputy on his squad and was disciplined for failing to perform his supervisory duties, which may have resulted in criminal charges being placed against the suspect in the matter.
Fleenor’s hot temper, which was on display at the Lexington Park Library candidate forum on June 15, 2021, got him another couple of sustained actions resulting in eight hours of suspension in one incident and thirty-two hours without pay in another. One involved Fleenor escalating the turmoil in a crowd due to his behavior, and the other involving rudeness to a citizen.
In 2016, Fleenor used a student at the Tech Center as a decoy in a K-9 demonstration in violation of policy and was dinged for eight hours of leave time for the infraction.
In 2002, Fleenor was suspended for eighty hours after he was involved in a fight in Calvert County while off duty.
Historically, the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department has often been heavy-handed in applying policy violations, with favored members of the Good Old Boy Club receiving no repercussions for violations. In contrast, others, especially females, suffered severe consequences. The unequal application of punishment for females has included loss of pay and rank.
THE REST OF THE STORY: Clarion bar video cleared Kelly Lowther of slapping Mike Merican; Sheriff Tim Cameron fired her anyway
Fleenor’s gripes about how internal affairs are administered may not be accurate in his case. Still, the failure of Sheriff Cameron to terminate Major Merican for lying under oath at the trial board of an unjustly fired employee is an excellent example of the old boy club at work.
The new Maryland law that took effect last year, for the first time, allows the public to have access to administrative records of law enforcement officers.