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Three Jobs Puts Man on Two Sides of the Law

The Baltimore Sun via YellowBrix

January 25, 2010

Charles J. Herring has a day job. He’s the deputy chief of the Towson University police force, earning $95,558 to protect a campus with 24,000 students, faculty and staff.

Charles J. Herring has a second job. He’s in charge of scheduling security at the Bel Air Cinema Stadium 14 in Abingdon. Until last week, one of the guards included Herring’s boss at Towson, Police Chief Bernard Gerst, who makes $119,813 a year. Gerst said he quit the theater job after inquiries from The Baltimore Sun.

Charles J. Herring has a third job. He is a part-time lawyer with a home office on Legacy Drive in Harford County. Most of his cases involve divorce and civil tort claims, but he has found time to dabble in two criminal cases. In one that is pending, he represents a burglary suspect arrested and charged by deputies in the Harford County Sheriff’s Department.

“I work long hours and I work hard,” Herring told me about juggling three jobs.

Officers working for him at Towson University and deputies out arresting people in Harford County take a dim view of one of their own enforcing the law in one county and then trading in his gun and badge to defend peoplein the county next door, a union representative says.

“In this game, it’s real clear, you got to pick a team,” said Gary McLhinney, a labor negotiator and consultant for Schlachman, Belsky and Weiner, a Baltimore law firm that represents the police unions at Towson University and in Harford County, as well as others across the state. “It’s a perception that he’s not completely on the side of the good guys all the time.”

Part of this dispute is internal bickering. McLhinney said Towson officers feel that Herring gave his boss preferential slots at the movie theater to the detriment of rank-and-file cops for whom starting salaries are one-third the chief’s. Those officers, McLhinney said, “obviously realize the inherent conflict of interest in a subordinate scheduling overtime for a superior.”

But this is more than a spat between management and workers.

Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, whose office is prosecuting Herring’s client in the burglary case, said he was unaware that the suspect’s lawyer is also a sworn police officer. He said the dual roles do not necessarily constitute an outright conflict of interest but do raise troubling questions.

“It doesn’t look clean,” Cassilly said.

In a series of interviews, Herring and Gerst offered an impassioned defense, denying any conflict or favoritism. Both said tough economic times made it difficult to provide for their families. Gerst said he has a child in nursing school and another in graduate school, and that he lost $5,000 while furloughed last year as part of the state’s efforts to close a budget deficit.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    I have to say it would make me uncomfortable as well. But the criminal cases, he says, are "special circumstances." I am somewhat inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt simply as he knows something that the rest of us don't.

  • Car6_max50

    Ahi

    about 4 years ago

    1990 Comments

    Sounds like he is causing too many problems with his decisions there. I wouldn't do any criminal case if I was in that position. However, I wouldn't need money bad enough to have that many jobs, at least with that salary from the one.

  • Car6_max50

    Ahi

    about 4 years ago

    1990 Comments

    Sounds like he is causing too many problems with his decisions there. I wouldn't do any criminal case if I was in that position. However, I wouldn't need money bad enough to have that many jobs, at least with that salary from the one.

  • Sps_badge_max50

    Glen603

    about 4 years ago

    106 Comments

    How does one find it hard to provide for their families with those salaries? Get down off the hog! Try saving instead of spending.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    beeguy

    about 4 years ago

    468 Comments

    Though it may not be illegal it sure makes people (fellow officers) wonder just which side the man is on. If you question which side your administration is on, it could really hamper department, as well as surrounding agencies moral and desire to work together. Civil cases, go for it but leave the criminal cases to attornies without a badge.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    I wouldn't trust this guy if I had to work with him, for him, or have him work for me. You're either a cop or a criminal lawyer - not both, not ever.

  • John_groh_max50

    wiseass0282

    about 4 years ago

    10986 Comments

    I agree with the others. He should stick to the civil cases and stay away from the criminal defense part of it.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    about 4 years ago

    10928 Comments

    He needs to choose a side and stick with it !! DALLASCRANE, that downhill fall could well end up as a freefall !!!

  • Snoopy_6_max50

    Jonas

    about 4 years ago

    41204 Comments

    I'm not easily confused, usually!!!

  • Hitman_max50

    g45

    about 4 years ago

    172 Comments

    I find its best not to blur the lines...it can only lead to failure.

  • Chris_and_i_in_uniform_max50

    JP503

    about 4 years ago

    7620 Comments

    needs to pick one side and stick with it

  • L_5334c08ecb3f3508ca6a210763767eb8_max50

    bluebear992

    about 4 years ago

    130 Comments

    I can kinda deal with him doing civil stuff, but criminal? This should not be legal.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    What a prick!

  • Badge__hat_max50

    Baxter2

    about 4 years ago

    1846 Comments

    What a slap in the face to all the men and women in the departments this guy purports to supervise. Pick a side and stay with it. You shouldn't try to do both.

  • Img_1050_max50

    Irishcop1961

    about 4 years ago

    46104 Comments

    Well said Frank.

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