Fortunes of Executive, Safety Official Entwined In Pr. George's County; Johnson, Officer Who Shot 2 Men, Seemed to Benefit From Ties.
Post, 31 Oct 2007 (Helderman & Rondeaux).
In a heated race in 2002 to become executive of Prince George's County, Jack B. Johnson needed an ally in the police department to counter vigorous opposition from the officers union. He had one in Cpl. Keith A. Washington.
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Since January, however, when Washington shot two unarmed furniture deliverymen, one fatally, Johnson has distanced himself from his former ally. "We are not friends," he said at one point. Johnson also has said that he "never promoted" Washington and that the media have overstated the importance of the county homeland security job he gave Washington.
Yet a close examination suggests that, in the political calculus, each man has benefited from his connection to the other. Their fortunes intertwined, Johnson's political career blossomed as Washington -- an officer deemed too unstable for regular duty for a time a decade earlier -- emerged as an influential figure in county public safety matters.
Washington, who was a driver for Johnson during the campaign, assumed a key position in the transition team, interviewing his boss, the police chief. Johnson named Washington to serve on a development panel and as deputy director of homeland security, credentials Washington used last year as he ran for County Council.