A golden anniversary for the force in blue

Police celebrate with history book, memorial for officers

January 07, 2002|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Howard County Police Department plans to use its golden anniversary this year as a chance to show the community how it has matured through the years.

What started in January 1952 with four officers has grown into a complex and modern department, replete with 360 sworn officers and a fleet of 357 vehicles.

Police officers are eager to share their department's history with the community, Chief G. Wayne Livesay said.

"It's an opportunity to showcase the department with the citizens in Howard," Livesay said. "This anniversary is not just about us, it's about Howard County."

A 10-person anniversary committee, made up of civilians and sworn officers, has been planning the yearlong celebration for months.

"Everyone has pulled together to make this happen," said police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn, a committee member. "We've been discovering our history as we go."

The anniversary will feature several events and keepsakes, including a history book, anniversary badges and a police show.

The anniversary has a slogan: "Preserving our past, protecting your future."

As a throwback to days past, the department painted one police car black in honor of the anniversary. Now a mostly white fleet, the first few police cars in the county were black. The cars also spent a few years painted powder blue - not the most popular choice.

"The anniversary car is a combination of old and new," said Capt. Gary Gardner, chairman of the anniversary committee. "It's equipped with modern technologies, but it's painted like the old ones."

The black anniversary car is one of the most visible indicators of the anniversary, but residents will catch other glimpses of the celebration throughout the year.

Officers will wear anniversary badges, civilian employees will wear anniversary pins and police vehicles will sport anniversary plates.

In late spring or early summer, the department will release a book commemorating the first 50 years. It will be available for $45.

"It's important to know how we've developed over the years," Gardner said. In addition to the book, Gardner said the department plans to save anniversary announcements and trinkets.

Livesay will introduce the year's activities at a celebration at 11 a.m. Jan. 29 in the George Howard Building. Other events include unveiling a memorial courtyard and garden dedicated to fallen officers and a daylong event June 1 to showcase police cars, equipment and history. It will be similar to the annual Fire Expo.

The memorial will honor all police officers who were protecting Howard residents when they were killed in the line of duty. This makes Maryland State Police troopers and Howard County Sheriff's Department officers eligible if they are killed in the county.

The memorial will honor five such officers, but one Howard County Police Department officer was killed in the line of duty. Randolph Brightwell died during a traffic stop in 1961.

A Howard County Police Department recruit, Roger D. Cassell Jr., collapsed and died during training at the police academy in 1994, which is considered a line-of-duty death. He will be included in the memorial.

The memorial unveiling is planned for May 29, and anniversary committee members hope it will draw former officers spread out across the country.

"Police officers form a special family," Gardner said. "Police work bonds people together."

Gardner said even the younger members of the Police Department are interested in the anniversary activities.

"We're all very excited about this," Livesay said. "We're proud to show what we've achieved."

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