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First Responders Appear to Have Drawn the Line in Wicomico County Executive Race

April 8, 2022 - by Gilda Koffsky, Journalist

As the race for Wicomico’s County Executive heats up, lines definitely seem to be drawn. One line in particular is those of our county’s first responders. It would seem that John Psota, a retired state trooper and Acting County Executive, and Ernest Davis, also a retired state trooper and County Councilman, would have a leg up on Julie Giordano, a public school teacher and former business manager, considering they are retired law enforcement. But recent polling appears to show Giordano has won over our first responders.

One issue facing our current Acting County Executive is a lawsuit that was just recently filed by a medically retired deputy from the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office with a second shortly to follow. The lawsuit is in regard to the negotiated police contract the deputies have with the county. After the contract was agreed upon, language was “added” to the contract by the county.

In summary, if a deputy is injured in the line of duty, that deputy will receive a settlement issued by the county’s insurance company for the injury sustained while on duty for the compensation of the injury. Pretty standard in any line of work. However, what was added was that if it is determined by the medical board, that if that deputy must medically retire due to that injury, he or she will have to pay back the settlement to the county plus interest at over 5%. No questions asked.

In one current example, a deputy tried to hand the settlement check back to the county. The county refused the check and reiterated that they were also due the interest. Psota, as the Acting County Executive, has the power with a “stroke of a pen” and quick meeting to resolve this issue but has refused. Giordano has stated that if elected, the contract will be corrected to its agreed upon form. Davis has made no comment.

Another issue facing Wicomico County involving our police is the bill out of Annapolis regarding the forming of a Police Accountability Board. On April 5, 2022, the county held a County Council Meeting where this bill was introduced. Many showed up in support of the bill wearing buttons that said, “Hold Police Accountable”.

While many spoke in support of the bill voicing their support for the rights of the citizens, Giordano was the only citizen to remind the county that there is another side to this. “99%, if not higher, of our police officers are great and do a thankless job. They have to make split decisions that now people on commissions have days or weeks to analyze. If you want to see change in policing and the ‘end’ product, I suggest going to the academy and walk their walk. So now we will have people not trained in department policy, Maryland Law, or the state and federal constitution deciding what’s going to happen to the people who protect us.”

Councilman Davis chimed in during the council comments regarding the Police Accountability Board stating, “We have to get it right”. Davis also reiterated that this legislation was out of Annapolis. Psota was not present and made no comment.

As far as the other first responders in the county, Psota has kept in contact with the department head of emergency services, provided our volunteer fire departments an $80,000 check in the month of March 2022 from ARPA funds received and intended for distribution over a year ago. He has also met with our Fire Chiefs and paid a visit to the FOP Lodge.

Davis has met with the Fire Chiefs expressing the idea for our EMTs and paramedics to be county funded positions.

Giordano has met with the fire chiefs and has visited numerous fire stations reiterating that she plans to assist in the areas of funding and recruitment. She has also met with the career firemen out of the Salisbury stations, toured the 911 dispatch center speaking to many dispatchers about their concerns, and has spoken to many EMTs. She, too, has also spoken at the FOP Lodge. Giordano has also hinted that she has a grant writer in mind for the county.

Citizens, as far as first responders go, it appears that one of a kind has beaten a pair.

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