GAHLER FOR SHERIFF IN 2014

December 6, 2013 Sheriff Jesse Bane Harford County Sheriff’s Office 45 N. Main Street Bel Air, MD 21014 Ref: Public Information Act Request Dear Sheriff Bane: In mid-October, the taxpayers of Harford County first learned that you were in the process of establishing a helicopter unit in Harford County. The information was developed and shared with the community by a reporter and not by your office. This was followed by the “official” press conference on December 3, 2013, nearly a month and a half later, in which you disclosed years of research into the program (since 2010) and yet not a mention to the general public. It is apparent that the Office of the Sheriff, as a steward of the citizen’s investment, has not shared information on this potentially expensive program with a sufficient degree of transparency. It is clear that this matter was not shared with key decision makers or the public prior to a final decision being made by your office. Having the helicopter (and spares) acquired, serviced, painted and prepped for service without even a small mention to the citizens of Harford County is egregious. As a candidate for Sheriff, I have received many inquiries asking for my position on this new unit. Your lack of transparency in this matter leaves one with many questions and questions that I do not feel were adequately addressed through your press conference. Accordingly and pursuant to Md. State Gov’t Code Ann. §§ 10-611, et. seq. , I am seeking information related to this new unit and the detailed planning that led to the decision to pursue these helicopters and the formation of this unit at this time. Specifically, I am requesting:
1. What are the benefits to the Sheriff’s Office from having its own police helicopter unit, why is it needed now and have Standard Operating Policies been drafted to incorporate the Aviation Unit into the Office of the Sheriff? 2. Please confirm that the Sheriff’s Office has acquired three helicopters – one for use and two for parts. If different, what is the expected size of the helicopter unit? 3. Where will the helicopters be housed? What is the annual cost associated with any lease or facility upgrades? 4. After the initial refurbishment, what is the expected annual cost for maintenance including parts and labor? 5. How many hours is the Sheriff’s Office expecting the unit will be in service and how many miles is it expected to fly in a year? What are the expected fuel costs for the annual mileage? 6. How will the County provide insurance for this program and what is the expected annual cost? Information provided in 2001 related to the implementation of this program in Montgomery County

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P.O. BOX 1062, BEL AIR,, MARYLAND 21014 PHONE: 443-876-8840 EMAIL: JEFF@GAHLERFORSHERIFF.COM Treasurer – Edward J. Kabernagel

included a preliminary response from their Risk Management that the County Attorney’s Office felt the County could not self-insure for the full amount of the aircraft and that supplemental insurance would be needed. A preliminary estimate, not based in a detailed application, was that supplemental insurance was estimated around $50,000 per year (that was 12 years ago). 7. How many staff will be assigned to the unit? In 2001 in Montgomery County’s effort, the staff was proposed as one supervisor, five pilots, and five observers (two officers would be in the aircraft). It was felt that pilots should be police officers rather than civilians. If a lower number of staff is being recommended, will the helicopter be ready for dispatch 24-hours a day? If not, what will be the impact on helicopter response time? 8. What divisions will police officers assigned to the Aviation Unit be reassigned from and how will their current assignments be filled? 9. Will the Sheriff’s Office have memoranda of understanding with other municipal police departments, the State Police and/or Aberdeen Proving Ground regarding when the County will respond to requests from these agencies/entities? 10. What is the expected useful life of the helicopters that are being acquired? Does the Sheriff’s Office propose establishing any type of fund for a planned replacement? 11. Please confirm that the Asset Forfeiture Fund is the sole source of funding for the entire program. If not, what is the source of funding? Was any part of the helicopter’s refurbishment paid for with any monies other than Asset Forfeiture Funds? Will the use of these funds reduce the normal disbursement totals to the other Task Force member agencies or are they bearing some of the expense of this unit? 12. What is the current balance in the Asset Forfeiture Fund? While it is recognized that there are detailed items that should not be publicly disclosed, what were total expenditures from the fund in FY12 and FY13, and what were the major categories for those expenses? 13. What are the total planned expenditures from the Asset Forfeiture Fund for FY14, and what are the major categories for expenditures in the coming year? 14. As the Asset Forfeiture Fund is your source of funding this unit, why is the creation of a helicopter unit a higher priority than other items that might have been funded with Forfeiture monies, such as additional in-car video cameras or computers? 15. You have announced that Asset Forfeiture Funds will cover the entire costs of the Aviation Unit in the first fiscal year, what source of funding is expected to be used for the ongoing costs beginning in FY15?

Although lengthy, I am anticipating these questions have already been answered since they are no more than a very slightly modified version of the questions posed to the Montgomery County Police Department in 2009 when that department attempted to form their own “free” helicopter program. I believe these are the same helicopters you have now obtained which were available because the free program was ultimately too expensive for Montgomery County. In case you are unaware of the origin of these questions, the source can be found here: http://maryland-politics.blogspot.com/2009/07/ikewants-police-helicopters-council.html. I look forward to your response and if needed, I can be contacted by telephone at 443-876-8840 if there are any questions concerning this request. Sincerely, Jeffrey R. Gahler 2014 Republican Candidate for Harford County Sheriff