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Harvey 'Looking Into' '76 Sheriff Race

Harvey 'Looking Into' '76 Sheriff Race image Harvey 'Looking Into' '76 Sheriff Race image
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In a world of constant change and uncertainty, it's comforting to know that some things remain reassuringly the same. The price of a cali in a pay phone booth, for instance. Muhammad Ali's braggadocio. The irresistible aroma of a ballpark "red hot." Skinned knees on small boys. Doug Harvey. Doug Harvey? Yes, friends, Washtenaw County's nearly legendary lawman has changed little since he was bounced from the sheriff's office three years ago by Fred Postill, following one of the most bitter election campaigns in county history. His once-distinctive crew cut may be gone, but his values and no-nonsense philosophy of law enforcement are basically unchanged. , If you liked Harvey for sheriff in '64 and '68 and '72, chances are you'U like him just as much should he run again in '76. And that idea is very much on Harvey's mind, as he admitted last week during an interview with The News. Tm not saying I am going to run and Fm not saying I'm not going to run," he stated equivocally. "But I have definite plans to look into it, either as a candidate for sheriff or as a running mate." Harvey picks his words carefully when he is asked about his future political K tentions, although rumor has it that he is , more firmly committed to making a bid i than he will publicly admit. He said he has received plenty of 1 couragement from local citizens to enter the sheriff's race next year. "Let's just . say I'm considering it," he allowed, a coy smile crossing his lips. "I haven't t ruled it out." While Harvey no doubt realizes that a formal announcement at this point might be premature, he sounds as much like a Í candidate as a critic when discussing the current state of the sheriff's department he robustly directed for eight years, beginning in 1965. "Now be sure and include this," he told a reporter. "What the department needs most is leadership from a man whose been on the street. I'm talking about a trained professional pólice officer, not a college graduóte" or a sociologist. "Actually, I think a man ought to have at least 10 years of experience as a pólice officer bef ore he's even able to run for sheriff," Harvey added. The county's former "top cop" is now a 43-year-old Saline bar owner who has been laid off two home construction jobs since he left the sheriff's office. He was arrested early in 1973 in northern Michigan on a drunk driving charge, but was subsequently acquitted. Harvey made it clear that if he does - run for sheriff again, it will be on either ' the Democratie or Republican ticket - he's not sure which - and not as an independent. He was elected to two terms in office as a Democrat, but as the incumbent in 1972, he lost the support of what he called "a loud minority of Ann Arborites" who con trolled the local Democratie Party machinery. When it became apparent that the party's movers and shakers favored the more liberal Postill, the everunpredictable Harvey avoided a primary election showdown with Postill by abruptly bolting the Dems and running for re-election on the conservative American Independent Party ticket. The move proved diastrous for Harvey.' He finished last in the November general election, well behind both Postill and his own undersheriff, Harold Owings, who ran as a Republican. It was the low point of Harvey's colorful and controversial career in law enforcement. Harvey said he now realizes that his mistake in strategy in 1972 was thinking his name was bigger than the party label. "I was trying to prove a point, and I failed," he said. "I thought people would vote for the man rather than the party, but some people - supporters of mine - later told me they got confused when they looked at the ballot and couldn't Eind my name." Harvey claimed his 1972 campaign was also hurt by "two of my most trusted aides, Undersheriff Owings and Administrative Capt. Elliott Fredland, secretly ivorking against me." He said both men, who are still ployed by the sheriff's department, me with Postill shortly before the electio and gave him information intended t damage Harvey's candidacy. "I feit be trayed," he said. "Here were two of m 'friends' sitting in my camp with a big knife." Harvey revealed that it was he who suggested to Owings that he run for sheriff on the GOP ticket, with an agreement under which, if Owings was elected, he'd hire Harvey as his undersheriff. Less than three weeks after Owings announced his candidacy, Harvey jumped to the AIP. Four months later, Owings j told an Eastern Michigan University student group that there was "no way" he would appoint Harvey as undersheriff if he won the election. Since a less militant tone set in on the nation's college campuses - including the U-M campus, where Harvey was traditionally persona non grata - some political observers feel the mellower mood might be to Harvey' s advantage if he runs for sheriff again. Postill ran very strong among students and young people in 1972, perhaps in part because he professed a dislike for arresting marijuana users, but since then his appeal in campus areas may have diminished with the cooling of ■ dent radicalism. Not that students are likely to grow misty-eyed and nostalgie at the mention of Harvey's name, but their memories of his forays onto Washtenaw County campuses with his helmeted troops of riotbusters may have faded by now. Harvey still appears physically capable of picking up a night stick and leading a squad of pólice officers into battle, as he I was fond of doing while sheriff. He's down to 185 pounds now, from the I 214 he weighed when hé left office. 1 though looking fit, he's been bothered I lately by blood clots in his left leg, the I result of a motorcycle accident five years I ago. , The most obvious change in Harvey's I appearance is the absence of his I standard crew cut. During his years as sheriff, Harvey's I close-cropped hair style carne to I sent almost a bristly badge of his hardfisted brand of law and order, and set him poles apart from the campus longhairs to whom he b ecame a syjnbol of pólice repression. But Harvey's graying hair is now long enough so that he is conscious of running a comb through it before a photographer snaps his picture. Harvey still talks fondly of the sheriff's department, and takes obvious pride in his claim that he and his top aides as sheriff built it into "one of the finest, most professional law enforcement agencies in the state, in the country." It galls him that Postill - a former deputy under Harvey who was fired for insubordination - has reshaped the department in his own image, and in the process, removed several vestiges of the Harvey administration. ___ Coh-Htoe0 - Postíll has, for exampu;, puneu ihe sheriff's department thit of Participation in the Washtenaw Área Narcotics Team (WANT) which Harvey helped establisn. "Aren't we concerned about the flow of narcotics anymore?" Harvey asked rhetorically. "Evidently Fred isn t. Postill also has gotten rid of the crowd control-equipped truck that Harvey purchased for the department dunng the days of student demonstrations, and has abolished the Tactical Mobile Squad Some of Harvey's criticisms of the Postill regime may sound petty, as when he contends that the department s rankand-file "are a scroungy-looking bunch lof guys" and that the department has Ibeen demoralized by Postill. I But the former sheriff sounds like a Iprospective candidate staking out issues Iwhen he attacks "lax securitymeaslures" in the County Jail and Postill s lemphasis on inmate rehabilitation. "There's too many do-gooders around now " he said of Postill, "and the trouIble is that they're playing with the wel■fare of the general public. We've got lenough crimináis out on the streets now ■without releasing more of them from 3aiSo if anyone should ask you, "Whatev■ er happened to Doug Harvey? " bear m I mind that he has a decided preference for I pólice work over bartending. I And the job of sheriff of Washtenaw I County comes up for renewal by the votI ers next year.