By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
Sylvester Jones, a seasoned law enforcement professional, wants to make Prince George’s County safer by serving as its next sheriff. “I ran for sheriff against Melvin High in 2014 and while I came in second, I amassed 10,000 votes in four months of campaigning,” Jones told the AFRO. “I decided to give it another try because I have a lot to offer this county and can do a better job than Mr. High.”
In addition to High, Jones is competing against former Deputy U.S. Marshal David Grogan, former Capitol Heights Police Chief Anthony Ayers, Deputy Sheriff Kendal Wade, and Percy Reeder for the position. The Democratic Party primary is June 26 and its winner will likely be the next sheriff because in the Nov. 6 general election there is no competition from the county Republican Party.
Jones is a Chicago native and a 1988 graduate of Chicago State University. He is retired from the U.S. Marshal’s Service with 27 years of service, having risen to the level of assistant director, and is also retired from the U.S. Army Military Police (national guard) as a lieutenant colonel with 25 years to his credit.
He served as a police officer in Markham, Ill., for four years before being hired as a deputy U.S. Marshal in 1987. Jones has held a number of high-level positions in the Marshal’s Service such as leading roles in the prisoner services division, court security, judicial security, and witness protection.
On Aug. 21, 2001, Jones made history when he was promoted to the senior executive staff of the Marshal’s Service, the first Black law enforcement officer to be promoted within the ranks to that level.
In 2004, he got a master’s of science degree in human resources from the University of Maryland, University College.
Jones said he can provide the leadership that the sheriff’s department is lacking. “Melvin High is a good guy but it is time for him to pass the baton,” he said. “It is time for more progressive leadership.”
Jones’s platform includes closer collaboration with the county’s police department as well as state and federal law enforcement; continuing to strengthen the sheriff’s department’s domestic violence initiatives; reduce the 40,000 backlog of warrants for arrest, and step up the department’s presence in the schools.
Jones also wants to establish a Sheriff’s Mentoring Program where the deputies have interaction with young people on a regular basis and will work to be a presence at civic association meetings. Internally, Jones is interested in being fiscally sound, raising the salaries of deputy sheriffs, and offering them the best professional development training available.
Jones has held a series of town hall meeting on public safety issues during his campaign and his next will be on domestic violence. It will take place at the Laurel-Bowie Boys & Girls Club May 9.
Floyd Wilson, a longtime resident of Prince George’s County and the first Black to serve on the Prince George’s County Council, told the AFRO he isn’t aware of Jones, but he may have a difficult time defeating High.
“I have never had the pleasure of meeting him but I don’t think he will beat Chief High,” Wilson said. “I think Melvin High has done a lot as sheriff and he is popular with the people.”
Wilson does think Jones has a future in the political arena with another job. “I think he should play his cards right and try to become the next county police chief when [Maryland State Senator] Anthony Muse becomes county executive,” he said. “Muse will need a good police chief and I think Sylvester Jones should try to go for that.”