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History of the Washington County
Sheriff's Office

The first elected Sheriff of Washington County, Maryland was George Hershey who served from 1777 to 1780. There have been 79 Sheriffs in the history of Washington County to date. One of the more interesting chapters in the unbroken chain of Sheriffs is the term of Sheriff George Swearingen who began his term in 1827, however it was ended prematurely when he was arrested, convicted and hung for the murder of his wife in 1829.

In 1838, the Maryland Constitution was changed to provide for a separate County Tax Collector, thus relieving the Sheriff of that responsibility. In 1850, the Sheriff's term of office was reduced to two years. It remained a two-year term until 1946 when it was increased to four-year terms. The four-year term remains in place today.

The longest serving Sheriff in the history of Washington County was Charles F. Mades who served from 1986 to 2006. He served five terms in office after retiring with 25 years with the Maryland State Police.

The present Sheriff, Douglas W. Mullendore, is in his second term as Sheriff. He was re-elected in 2010 and has been with the Sheriff's Office since January, 1982. He came up through the ranks within the Sheriff's Office and was first elected Sheriff in 2006.



According to the book, "A History of Washington County, Maryland from the Earliest Settlements to the Present Time" written by Thomas J.C. Williams, the first jail stood on the alley between Washington and Franklin Streets. It was a small structure of logs with holes to admit light because there were no windows. The best guess is that this jail was in use from the 1970s to 1826.

A new County Jail and Sheriff's Quarters was constructed over an eight year period from 1818 to 1826 as a log house on N. Jonathan St, Hagerstown, Maryland. In 1857, a fire completely destroyed the jail, but left the Sheriff's residence still standing. The jail was rebuilt in 1858 and remodeled in 1888 at which time a second floor was added. Steel cages were also added which formed the cell blocks. Sometime after this period, the high walls were added that surrounded the entire building. At the conclusion of the remodeling, the jail's capacity was for 51 inmates.

The last hanging in Washington County occurred on June 30, 1916 when John Brown was hanged after being found guilty of murdering a Hagerstown Widow. Sheriff's during this time period did everything they could to accommodate the ever increasing inmate population which had grown to approximately 100 inmates by 1980. It was then decided by the Board of County Commissioners and the Sheriff to design and build a state-of-the-art Detention Center.

The Detention Center, located at 500 Western Maryland Parkway, Hagerstown, MD was constructed at a cost of $5.8 million and provided 56,395 square feet of space to hold a capacity of 162 inmates. In June, 1984 the inmates were transferred from the old jail to the new Detention Center. The old jail was demolished later that year. Some of the stones from the first floor of the old jail were used to build a memorial to all veterans in the Martin L. Snook Park, Hagerstown, Maryland.

In 1988 the population of the Detention Center has grown to the point it was decided to add a second bunk to each cell. Then in 1992 a Work Release/Jail Substance Abuse Program (JSAP) Unit was added. By 1996 the inmate population continued to grow and it was necessary to add another 76 bed housing unit.

In 2009, renovations to the Detention Center was started that created a Central Booking Unit on the front side of the Detention Center. The Central Booking Unit opened its doors on May 10, 2010. All Individuals arrested by any police officer in Washington County are now transported to Central Booking for processing. Construction of a 96 bed dormitory style housing unit was also started in 2010 and will be completed in September 2011.

All of the above construction has brought the general inmate population beds available to 387 males and 54 females in addition to special needs beds.

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