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New sheriff fills ranks with former colleagues from police department New Prince George County Sheriff Melvin C. High is filling his ranks with several familiar faces, bringing on board former top brass from the county police department, which High previously headed. High, the Prince George County police chief from 2003 to 2008, recruited the police department inspector general, Mark Spencer, to do the same job at the sheriff office, in a newly created position, confirmed Sharon Taylor, High new director of communications and public affairs for the agency. High was sworn in as sheriff Dec. 7 before a packed courtroom at the county courthouse in Upper Marlboro, replacing Michael A. Jackson. Spencer ran unsuccessfully against Angela Alsobrooks this year for Prince George County state attorney. sheriff takes a lot of pride in professionalism and accountability. [Spencer] helped Sheriff High fulfill that role in the police department, Taylor said. a smart and experienced attorney, and he going to be able to advise us in a lot of areas. Col. Paul Drula, who was second in command when he retired from the Office of the Sheriff this month, said the agency did not previously have an inspector general because the county sheriff was elected and that provided accountability for the actions of the agency. Others hired by High who have ties to the Prince George County Police Department are former deputy chiefs Darrin Palmer and Orlando Barnes, as well as retired Maj. Regina Taylor White, Taylor confirmed. All three will fill assistant sheriff positions vacated by three top leaders in the sheriff office. suspect they experience some growing pains, said Drula of the new leadership. are coming from a police agency and having their own policies and procedures, and those are different in the sheriff office. So there will be a learning curve, I sure. as well as Lt. Cols. Robert Kiker and Marc Givens all retired this month, leaving only one assistant sheriff in place during the transition between Jackson and High. Palmer and Barnes both worked as deputy police chiefs under High and helped him run his election campaign. Palmer was High campaign treasurer while Barnes worked as his campaign manager. Taylor White is a retired major from the county police department who most recently served as director for the Prince George Community College Municipal Police Academy. She was hired as director to reform curriculum in the academy after it was shut down in December 2009 when an audit by the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions uncovered record keeping problems. The academy held its first academy class graduation Friday since it was shuttered for the investigation. High has not outlined specific plans he has for the Office of the Sheriff, saying Dec. 7 after his swearing in that he is still reviewing current policies and practices in the office before making any changes. about honoring our core obligations and making sure we do that well, High said. Drula said High will bring a different vision to the sheriff office than Jackson a significant change in the administration, Drula said. wish them well. I think they will do well. There are competent law enforcement managers coming in. said he was asked to stay on, but after 30 years in the agency he wanted some time off. He said he felt comfortable leaving the agency under High direction. it was someone I didn have a lot of confidence in, I might have stayed, Kiker said. Under High watch as police chief, crime rates in the county dropped overall by about 16 percent, although the number of crimes actually increased from 2003 to 2005 and then dropped in the latter half of his employment, according to data collected by Maryland State Police. During High tenure, the police department also made most of its progress toward completing a five year overhaul of department policies required by the federal Department of Justice. Monitoring and agreements made between the department and the DOJ were designed to end a history of excessive force complaints, alleged mistreatment of mentally ill suspects and unexplained departmental shootings. High was chief when the department went under independent monitoring but retired before oversight ended. In another agency shift, Robert Cease, former county Deputy Sheriff Association president, stepped down from his role as union president to take an assignment on security detail for new County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). Cease said it was the first time in history a deputy sheriff has been assigned to the position. Cease was an adamant supporter of both Baker and Rafael Hylton, who ran against High for sheriff.