If Robin Ficker is elected County Executive, he would fire Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas J. Manger and replace him with a Deputy Commander from the 5th District in Germantown, according to reports.
According to MyMCMedia, Ficker made the remarks at Monday night’s County Executive Candidates Debate in Rockville. The event was sponsored by the Rockville-based The Sentinel newspaper.
Ficker said he would replace Chief Manger with Jae Hwang, who is the Republican candidate running for sheriff. Hwang is currently a deputy commander of the 5th District in Germantown.
“I like Jae Hwang,” Ficker said according to a report written by Doug Tallman of MyMCMedia. “He’s a former JAG officer; he’s an attorney, he’s deputy commander of Germantown police station. He’s a wonderful alternative.”
Hwang said he was surprised by Ficker’s announcement. “I don’t know anything about that,” Hwang told Germantown Pulse. “I haven’t spoken to him [Ficker] about that, and I have the highest respect for Chief Manger, who is my mentor in the MCPD. I’m running for sheriff of Montgomery County, who is elected by and accountable directly to the people of Montgomery County. I am not running for Chief of the Montgomery County Police department.”
Ficker’s announcement was in response to the moderator asking a broad question about the difficulties of minorities, which included the police shooting of an unarmed African-American man in June. Ficker continued, “We are going to not shoot any people that are unarmed. I can guarantee that,” Ficker said. “I’m going to talk to police and make it very clear.”
Ficker, a lawyer who ran unopposed for the GOP nomination, is a Boyds resident and is one of three candidates running for the County Executive seat in November. He is running against current Montgomery County Councilmembers Marc Elrich and Nancy Floreen.
Floreen, a long-time Democrat and resident of Garrett Park, jumped into the race after her fellow At-Large Councilmember Marc Elrich narrowly defeated businessman David Blair in the Democratic Primary Election in June. Elrich, who lives in Takoma Park.
Hwang is running to unseat Democratic incumbent Sheriff Darrin Popkin in the November election. Hwang is running on a platform that the sheriff should be held accountable by the residents of the County. “The status quo is not good enough,” writes Hwang on his campaign website. “Crime is rising, and criminals are evolving. Law enforcement must stay steps-ahead to keep the people of Montgomery County safe. To meet the challenges of the 21st-century criminal, we must have a 21st century Sheriff’s office at the cutting edge of technology and law enforcement tactics. Most importantly, the Sheriff must stand united with the people he is elected to serve and protect. A direct line of communication is vital to build trust with the diverse communities and neighborhoods the comprise Montgomery County.”
In October of 2017, Hwang spoke to Germantown Pulse after he announced his plans to run for sheriff. “Popkin was first elected seven years ago, and before being elected he was the chief deputy of the Sheriff’s department,” said Hwang last year. “He has been running that department for 19 years. I think it is time for a change.”
Hwang wants to see the Sheriff’s Department take a larger role more collaborative role with MCPD in preventing criminal activity in the County. “We have a bunch of different agencies that have to collaborate better and provide the proper resources. We have sheriff’s deputies, which have the equal statutory authority as Montgomery County law enforcement as police officers. They can go out and stop cars and do traffic enforcement. But currently, that doesn’t seem to be happening. I don’t know if they are directed not do so, but it is frowned upon. We can use all the traffic enforcement we can get; there are some crazy drivers out there.”
The Sheriff’s Department’s main function is prisoner transportation and guarding of prisoners when they are not in the jails. While the sheriff’s are often active in the jails, the jails operate under the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation.
Hwang said that often MCPD officers are pulled off their regular patrols to provide transportation for prisoners because a sheriff’s deputy is not available. Hwang contents that this has been a problem for almost a decade and little has been done to improve the situation.
Last year, Hwang, who also serves as a captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG), United States Army Reserve, was awarded the National Image, Inc.’s Military Meritorious Service Award for promoting core values exemplifying outstanding service in his branch of service and community. National IMAGE Inc. is a national Hispanic organization established in 1971 whose mission is to empower Hispanics through leadership development by advocating for employment, education and civil rights.