Mayor says Westminster chief will be selected from ranks

Name of Leppo successor expected by next month

August 17, 1999|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan said yesterday he plans to appoint a new police chief by mid-September, and that the replacement for Sam R. Leppo will come from within the 43-member Westminster Police Department.

Yowan's announcement came less than two weeks after Leppo was killed while off duty in a three-vehicle crash in Frederick County.

The 32-year veteran of the Westminster police force was buried Aug. 8 after services attended by 400 uniformed police officers and firefighters from across Maryland.

Maj. Roger Joneckis was named acting police chief by Yowan after the fatal crash on Aug. 4.

Yowan said Joneckis was a contender for the post, but he declined to name other candidates.

The Westminster Common Council must approve the appointment.

Leppo, 53, was a lifelong resident of Union Bridge and active in the southwest Carroll County community.

He had headed the department since 1976. His quiet, unassuming style endeared him to fellow officers, and he was eulogized as a "man of integrity."

Leppo worked to upgrade police equipment in Westminster, including adding new patrol cars and radio gear. All new officers were given a bulletproof vest.

He died after his 1995 Mazda pickup truck was struck by a Dodge driven by a Walkersville teen-ager on Route 194.

The impact caused Leppo's truck to flip onto the driver's side and into the northbound lane of 194, where a 1995 Honda rammed into the truck.

Joseph Notafrancesco, 17, was charged last week with failure to yield after a stop sign and faces a $60 fine.

Yowan said yesterday the town's police department is doing well in the wake of the tragedy.

"Obviously, they went through a tough period there," he said. "But it's not like they can take off a week or two -- they've got to go on, business as usual. And that makes it tough."

Pub Date: 8/17/99

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