Montgomery County Sheriff Darren Popkin said Tuesday that he will leave office at the end of his third term in December 2022.
Chief Deputy Maxwell Uy has filed to run in the Democratic primary.
Popkin, 59, was elected sheriff in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018. He has been with the department since 1985.
He told Bethesda Beat in an interview on Tuesday that he wants a break from the demanding nature of the job, which has required him to work 10 to 12 hours a day.
“I love the work. I love the job. I love the people that I work with,” he said.
“I gave 110% all the time, but it’s time for me to put that same commitment and same energy toward my family.”
The sheriff’s responsibilities, according to the county website, include:
- Court security and criminal transportation
- Criminal warrant service
- Service of process for the county court system
- Child support enforcement
- Combating domestic violence
Popkin said that in his time as sheriff, he is particularly proud of his involvement in the county’s Family Justice Center, a resource center for victims of domestic violence.
The center houses sheriff’s deputies and police officers, prosecutors, and counselors,. It provides services such as immigration assistance, shelter referrals, help in obtaining protective orders and case management.
“It is a model that has been duplicated throughout the country. We were one of the first 50 in the country, and we have provided services to between 15,000 and 20,000 people now,” Popkin said. “We’ve helped people get back on their feet. We’ve provided safety for victims of domestic violence and children. We’ve provided therapy for kids to try to break the cycle.”
Popkin said he is also proud of his involvement in advocating on a state legislative committee for the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association and Maryland Chiefs of Police Association.
Popkin, who has three children and one grandchild, said he looks forward to spending more time at home, but he isn’t calling his departure a retirement.
Uy, who joined the sheriff’s office 27 years ago, said on Tuesday that Popkin told him a few weeks ago that he would not seek a fourth term, in case Uy was interested in trying to succeed Popkin.
“When he confided that he had made the decision not to run, I spoke with my wife [about possibly running] and looked forward to the opportunity,” Uy said.
Uy, 48, grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and joined the Army after high school. He accepted a position at Fort Myer (now part of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall) near Arlington National Cemetery and was part of the Honor Guard for the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment.
After his service, Uy said, he applied to multiple law enforcement agencies and was hired by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in 1994.
Uy said he is particularly proud of training officers at the county’s police academy.
“I had an opportunity to [do] entry-level training with young deputies and officers. And really that was an amazing part of my career,” he said.
When asked about recent scrutiny of law enforcement nationally and efforts to make changes to policing, Uy said he is confident that the sheriff’s office can change with the times.
“I have a passion for training and I know the deputies and our other staff receive the best training. … And it is certainly challenging times in some of the current environment,” he said. “But what I will say is the deputies recognize that we have a unique mission as the law enforcement arm of the courts. And we will adapt to any training or legislative mandates that are appropriate with current direction of any reforms.”
Popkin agreed that the office can adapt.
“Culture change is sometimes slower than the [change in] laws. … The men and women of the sheriff’s office and law enforcement … they are understanding more and more of what these changes are. Some are more difficult than others. I’m confident that those in the sheriff’s office will enforce those laws,” he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no other candidates had filed in the sheriff’s race.
The deadline to file is Feb. 22. The 2022 primary will be on June 28, and the general election is on Nov. 8.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org