Frederick County, MD – The popular Frederick County sheriff publicly blasted a county councilman on Wednesday after the lawmaker interrupted a traffic stop to ask the black driver if he was okay.
A very angry Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins went public with his fury on an WFMD radio show on June 30.
Sheriff Jenkins said the incident occurred on June 20 after a Frederick County sheriff’s deputy stopped a vehicle for a license plate violation in the area of U.S. Route 15 and Catoctin Furnace Road, according to The Frederick News-Post.
The sheriff told WFMD that the deputy was talking to the driver when Frederick County Councilman Kai Hagen pulled up and stopped his vehicle in the roadway.
He said the deputy recognized Hagen and told the councilman that he couldn’t stay where he was with his vehicle blocking the roadway, The Frederick News-Post reported.
Sheriff Jenkins said that Hagen refused to leave until he had talked to the driver of the stopped vehicle and asked him if he was okay.
“This is outrageous. Who in the hell does he think he is?” the sheriff asked during the interview with WFMD.
And that was when Hagen called in to the radio show to respond to the sheriff directly, The Frederick News-Post reported.
“My wife and I were driving up Route 15,” Hagen told WFMD. “We noticed that a deputy was pulling over a car that wasn’t speeding, so we didn’t know what that was all about, and obviously it could be a lot of different things. And as we drove past… we noticed that it was a black driver.”
He said he turned around his vehicle and went back to make sure the driver was alright.
Hagen admitted he had pulled up alongside the deputy, in the roadway, to make his inquiry, The Frederick News-Post reported.
He said his vehicle was “ever so slightly” off the road but that he didn’t see any traffic coming when he stopped.
“I was polite to him, and we left as soon as one very basic question was answered,” Hagen told WFMD.
Sheriff Jenkins said the deputy issued two warnings to the driver after the councilman left, The Frederick News-Post reported.
“I’m not saying that the deputy did anything wrong,” Hagen told WFMD as he started arguing directly with the sheriff, live on the air.
” … You don’t believe that there’s any such thing as systemic racism in – not only Frederick County but law enforcement in the United States,” the councilman challenged the third-term sheriff who was first elected to run the law enforcement agency in 2006.
“That’s correct. I do not,” Sheriff Jenkins replied. “If there’s a racist on the line it’s you, my friend.”
The sheriff said that Hagen had risked the safety of the deputy with his inappropriate actions, The Frederick News-Post reported.
“Hagen, you had absolutely no business to interfere with the lawful duties of a deputy,” Sheriff Jenkins said. “He made a traffic stop based on a violation, a clear violation. It was none of your concern to start with.”
The sheriff brought the incident to the attention of Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and county council leadership and asked for a meeting, The Frederick News-Post reported.
He told the elected officials that he wanted the Hagen to apologize to the deputy.
But the county council wouldn’t touch it, The Frederick News-Post reported.
“So, for whatever reason they feel they can’t, they won’t, I don’t know,” Sheriff Jenkins told WFMD. “The only recourse I have, I think, is to bring this to the attention of the public. The public should know what the heck’s going on out there. And that this guy just is frankly unsuitable for office.”
Frederick County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer told The Frederick News-Post that she that she doesn’t have the authority to censure Hagen.
“My hands are kind of tied,” Keegan-Ayer said. “I don’t have authority over the other council members.”
“I’m not his mother,” she told The Frederick News-Post.
The council president said she hadn’t talked to Hagen yet, but that she didn’t think his call-in during Sheriff Jenkin’s interview was the best idea.
“I’m at a loss to understand what councilmember Hagen was thinking,” she said.
Hagen was county commissioner from 2006 to 2010 and was elected to the county council in 2018, The Frederick News-Post reported.
He announced his candidacy for county executive in March.