The St. Mary’s County Office of the Sheriff has a long and storied history dating back to 1637. For hundreds of years, local law enforcement rested upon the Sheriff and a handful of appointed constables and deputies at a time. History was made again in 1953 when Adele Long, wife of Sheriff Willard Long, was deputized and became St. Mary’s County’s first woman deputy sheriff. She served without pay. The Sheriff’s Office then was much different than the agency you see today.
In December 1966, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office became a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week operation, with marked police cruisers and uniformed deputies.
In late 1972, the Sheriff’s Office took over operations of the county jail from the county commissioners. At that time, Sheriff Larry Williams said he saw the need for female deputies and correctional officers.
In November 1973, Palmira “Pam” Allgood of Lexington Park was named as “St. Mary’s County’s newest and first female deputy,” according to The Enterprise newspaper.
Deputy Allgood was later followed in the 1970s by Deputy Debra Lee.
In an Enterprise article titled “More Women Entering Male Oriented Jobs” on Nov. 14, 1979, Deputy Lee said, “I’ve always wanted to be a cop. I fought it for a while and worked as a secretary. But I love it and wouldn’t do anything else.”
Many women since have stepped into the role of law enforcement with the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Office since then.
As of March 2022, there are 21 female deputies and 16 female correctional officers working in the agency, plus many other female civilians.
Agency’s first female Major
Major Deborah Diedrich started her career with the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office as a correctional officer in 1988. Diedrich was promoted to Major in March of 2017.
Until her retirement last month, Major Diedrich was the Commander of the St. Mary’s County Detention and Rehabilitation Center and was the first woman to hold the position of Major within the agency. During her time at the detention center, the facility consistently received the Recognition and Achievement Award for 100 percent Compliance of Standards for an Adult Correctional Facility.
Receiving 100-percent compliance with the standards confirms the St. Mary’s County Detention and Rehabilitation Center has not only met the standards but exceeded the expectation to foster public safety, staff welfare, and inmate well-being.
Agency’s first female Deputy Warden
Mary Ann Thompson began her career with the Corrections Division of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office in November of 1989. Most recently serving as the Support Services Manager for the detention center, Thompson provided professional guidance and direction in planning, leadership, and management of the 230-bed facility ensuring the custody, security, and the welfare of inmates in compliance with local, state, and federal laws. Thompson was promoted to Deputy Warden in January of 2019.
As the Deputy Warden, she is responsible for program management of the inmate population and effective and efficient operation of the jail. Thompson is the first female civilian to hold this position.