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New sheriff fills ranks with former police department colleagues New Prince George County Sheriff Melvin C. High is filling his ranks with several faces, bringing on board several 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, said Lt. Col. Paul Drula, the former assistant chief sheriff, who retired from the office this month. High was sworn in as sheriff Wednesday 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. Drula, who upon his retirement Dec. 1 was the longest serving deputy in the office, with 40 years experience, said the inspector general position is new to the county sheriff office. Another High hire who has ties to the Prince George County Police Department is Darrin Palmer, who confirmed he now is an assistant sheriff, and served as a deputy chief under ousted Police Chief Roberto Hylton. Palmer served as High campaign treasurer. Palmer declined to comment on or confirm shifts within the office of the sheriff aside from his own, stating a news release is expected to be sent Monday to inform the public of the changes. Two other top leaders in the office, Lt. Cols. Robert Kiker and Marc Givens, also began their retirements this month, leaving only one assistant sheriff in place during the transition between Jackson and High. Kiker 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. High, 65, retired as the county police chief in 2008 after five years at the helm. 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. 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. High has not outlined specific plans he has for the Office of the Sheriff, saying Wednesday 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. To fill the management gap, High reportedly is also talking with Regina Taylor White and Orlando Barnes for assistant sheriff positions. Taylor White is a retired major from the county police department who is currently the 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. Barnes is a retired deputy chief from the police department and worked as High campaign manager. 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. 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.