Howard Co. Sheriff James Fitzgerald shared the following statement to the media Thursday. Note that bolded text is from the original.
"I want to thank everyone for coming out today. The community, staff, my family and the media. Thanks to all.
I also want to apologize to you all for the atmosphere that has been created for the last week or so for accusations which have been directed at me during my time as Sheriff. As you know, an investigator at the Howard County Office of Human Rights has rendered an opinion as a result of a complaint -- filed by a former deputy who I have known for thirty plus years. I will not comment on the case because it is still developing. I am confident, however, that the best result for the county will be decided.
I can say that the report has been humbling, hurtful, and disappointing to all involved. It has caused me to reflect on what is important to my family, our community, and the men and women deputies that I have served with at the sheriff's office. It has also served as a source inspiration because I have been able to itemize what we have accomplished during my time as sheriff. Permit me to share some of our accomplishments:
My commitment to diversity within our office speaks for itself. Currently our office has 69 filled positions-- of that number- 19 positions are filled with African Americans. Of the 19 positions- 14 positions were hired during my 10 years as sheriff. This represents my ongoing commitment to diversifying our Howard County Sheriff's Office. I believe this more closely represents diversity than ever before.
• I promoted Matthew Ware to LT. who is the Howard County Sheriffs office 1st African American Commander.
Furthermore my commitment to the men and women of HCSO is proven by - obtaining support from our state delegation to approve collective bargaining for our deputies thus having compensation and additional benefits defined within a labor contract.
• Prudent budget oversights requiring tough decisions and making cuts when needed.
• Safety is always a priority- during my time as Sheriff-we made a major expansion of our domestic violence unit. Initially it was only operating Monday thru Friday during day and evening hours---Our unit now services the community twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to provide service and safety to our community.
We have the best team of sworn and civilian staff in the state of Maryland. We are very proud of our accomplishments. .
The OHR investigators opinion has also allowed me to reflect on the state of our country and the role I play in it. Over the last several years when I would hear the stories of the young men and women who have been killed. My first thought has been (like any other law enforcement officer) "I'm glad it didn't happen on my watch. "
As a father and a community member, I would say I am thankful that it did not happen to someone I know. MY inspiration NOW is:
How I can serve better?
How can I be a part of the solution for these challenges in our community and county?
I can lend my years of experience here in Howard County and other locales to both unify communities and show that law enforcement is a part of the solution. We should not be seen as adversaries in the community ------- but partners within the areas we serve. We are blessed that law enforcement and the community here in Howard County have built a strong and evident bond.
So, I am shifting to see this challenge that faces our office and my leadership as a way to make things better moving forward so the community can see my heart.
Although--- there are those who denounce and accuse and can only see the words in a report.
I love Howard County and all that it stands for. My dedication to the county is revealed in that I have served the citizens for over forty plus years. My wife and I raised our family here, and my service to the community is evident as I choose a law enforcement career as a police officer and then as YOUR sheriff. I will continue to serve the residents of Howard County. I hope that you all will help me, as I do the job I was elected to do.
I am grateful for your understanding and I pray in the days and years to come that you will understand me, my heart and my commitment to Howard County -----