Police Chief's Lack Of Credentials Attacked

February 13, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

MANCHESTER — An unsuccessful candidate for the town's police chief post is taking issue with the qualifications of the winner.

"What the hell does he know about the law?" asked Herbert N. Hewlett II, a 20-year Baltimore City police officer and Hampstead resident. "Why would the town choose somebody who is not certified?"

According to the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission, all 13,000 or so police officers in the state must be certifiedin order to use a gun, make an arrest or write a ticket. That is, all police officers except for chiefs.

Donald M. Myers, recently hired as police chief, is not a state-certified police officer. He says his lack of certification will have little or no effect on his $23,500-a-year post. Under Maryland law he is allowed to be the town's chief.

"While it's not required for a chief, we do think you should becertified," said Francis L. Manear, assistant director for administrative services at the commission. "If you're going to arrest people or carry a gun, we do recommend that you be certified."

Myers' fitness as police chief was raised during last night's regular Town Council meeting, as Hewlett -- who entered the police academy with Myers in 1967 -- brought his concerns to the council.

"The gentleman that you chose for police chief does not come close to my qualificationsfor this position," Hewlett said in a letter he presented to the council. In the letter, he said he was "outraged" at the town's procedure for picking a chief and called Myers' experience level "minimal at best."

Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. and the rest of councildid not discuss the letter during last night's meeting but agreed tobring the matter up at the Feb. 27 meeting.

However, in a telephone interview earlier in the day, Councilman Geoff Black defended the town's selection process.

"I believe that the process treated all applicants equally," he said. "The previous police chief reviewed allapplications, then pared that list down to four who we, in turn, interviewed."

The previous chief, Earl Isennock, now a night-shift officer on the force, could not be reached yesterday.

Black said he did not recall receiving Hewlett's application.

Myers was chosen from a field of about a dozen applicants, including Hewlett. He and three others were granted interviews with the Town Council. Of the fourcandidates, only Myers was an uncertified police officer, town officials said. While Myers -- a Baltimore police officer for four months in 1968, a Taneytown police chief for five years and a private security professional for 15 years -- is not required to be certified, he and town officials said he would go through the process.

"This is all a voluntary thing," he said yesterday before the council meeting. "While I am officially a police executive, I will go back for some range training, traffic courses, radar school and other programs. I expect to continue with the required 18 hours of in-service training required of all officers every year."

In other action, the council picked Larry L. Gouker to fill the seat vacated last month by David M. Warner, who left the $500-a-year position to take a $400-a-week consulting job

Gouker, 46, chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals, wasunanimously chosen to fill the seat, which expires in May.

The voting -- postponed from Jan. 23 -- was by secret ballot. The appointment of Gouker leaves only two elected members on the five-member council. The two, Black and Gerald H. Bollinger, both serve until May 1993.

Also at last night's meeting, a 46-year-old Baltimore man proposed starting a taxicab service around town. Russell Brannan, along with his Hampstead partner Robert Taylor, would operate a company calledCommunity Cab.

The council expressed surprise at the idea and wondered aloud whether there was need for cab service in Manchester.

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