Anthony Ayers Sr. has held prominent positions in Prince George’s County law enforcement.  Now, he is taking the electoral route and said he hopes county residents elect him as sheriff.

Anthony Ayers, former police chief of Capitol Heights, Md., is joining the race to become the next county sheriff. (Courtesy photo)

Ayers is the former police chief of Capitol Heights, Md., and a retired Prince George’s County police officer recognized for his keen community engagement. Ayers told the AFRO he wanted to become sheriff to make changes in the department.

“It is time to be more proactive instead of reactive,” he said. “We need to be more collaborative and deal with other agencies and pool our resources to help people.”

Ayers said he wants to minimize the “lock up” mentality in law enforcement and work to solve the problems of residents who commit crimes or are facing eviction. He said that as sheriff he will work with the county’s social service agencies to help the people.

In addition to collaboration, Ayers said he wants to raise the level of professionalism in the sheriff’s office and enhance its training program. “We need for our sheriff’s deputies to be cross-trained and become more effective first responders,” he said. “People need our help and we need to provide the resources for them.”

For example, if a person is set to be evicted, Ayers would have his deputies and staff engage a housing agency to see if the person could get rental assistance and, if not, emergency housing.

He said, in an Ayers-led sheriff department, a person arrested for a crime would get a mental health evaluation during the process of arrest and incarceration. Ayers said he tried this approach as the chief of police in Capitol Heights, Md. and it worked.

He said his campaign won’t be based on making current Sheriff Melvin High look bad but will point out some shortcomings. “Melvin High is my mentor,” he said. “I have worked as a sheriff’s deputy while he hasn’t. High works on the higher level of the sheriff’s department and he never has to deal with the day to day workings. He doesn’t see the inefficiencies but I did. His subordinates tell him everything is fine but it is not.”

In addition to High, Ayers faces deputy sheriff Kendal Wade and former U.S. Marshal David Grogan as competitive candidates in the June 29, 2018 Democratic Party primary. The winner of the primary will run in the Nov. 6, 2018 general election.

Ayers is a graduate of Bishop McNamara High School, located in Forestville, Md., and spent several years in the U.S. Navy after his high school graduation. When he left the Navy, Ayers joined the county police department, which he he from after 20 years of service.

Ayers was involved in community policing for 13 of those years, establishing contacts with political leaders such as Maryland State Sen. Joanne Benson (D-District 24) and Prince George’s County Council member Karen Toles (D-District 7). He was involved in several community events in the Capitol Heights-Seat Pleasant-Fairmount Heights-District Heights area. Ayers was instrumental in a Capitol Heights-Ward 7 parade, an event, that for two years, has brought bordering neighborhoods together in celebration, bonding and networking. He also had a short stint as a sheriff’s deputy in Capitol Heights, Md.

Ayers is a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Largo, Md.

Belinda Queen has been active in the effort to engage the county’s law enforcement agencies on behalf of residents.

“He is a community person and he did a great job reaching out to the community as the designated police officer in that capacity. Anthony is in touch with the local community,” Queen told the AFRO. “Anthony is well-known in the local community, but he has to reach out to all of Prince George’s County and some people in other parts of the county may not know him.”