State police retiree gets DNR post

20-year veteran to lead natural resources force

May 29, 2004|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

A retired 20-year veteran of the state police was appointed yesterday to lead the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Mark S. Chaney, 45, of Forest Hill is the third superintendent in less than two years for the police department that enforces fishing, hunting and boating laws. He will assume his new position Tuesday.

Until February, Chaney was commander of the operations bureau of the state police. But he became part of a departmental shake-up after Superintendent Edward T. Norris, who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, was replaced by Thomas E. "Tim" Hutchins.

Chaney, a Norris appointee to the department's second-highest rank, was allowed to retire as a lieutenant colonel last month rather than be demoted two ranks to captain and transferred to the licensing division.

"As one door closes, another one opens," Chaney said. "I've had the privilege to work for two outstanding departments, two departments that are well-respected by the people of Maryland."

As Natural Resources Police superintendent, Chaney will oversee the merger next year of his agency and 108 rangers from the state park system. Combining the two was recommended by the Mandel Commission, appointed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to study ways to make government more efficient.

The Natural Resources Police, which was authorized to have 214 officers, is down by about 35. The number of rangers has declined steadily from 218 in 1990.

"It is a plateful. It is a monumental undertaking," said Mark Belton, assistant secretary for the Department of Natural Resources. "Colonel Chaney has the complete confidence of the governor and Secretary [C. Ronald] Franks."

In addition to overseeing the merger, Chaney will have to calm a department that has seen upheaval at the top.

Douglas DeLeaver stepped down in April last year after just four months as superintendent to return to his former job as head of the Maryland Transit Administration police force.

He was replaced by Scott A. Sewell, who was forced out in December after a longtime female friend accused him of harassment, a charge that was later dismissed.

Chaney has been a barracks commander and head of the FBI Warrant Fugitive Task Force. A Baltimore native, he holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the Johns Hopkins University.

Lt. Col. Tammy Broll, who was acting superintendent, will continue as the chief of the Office of Field Operations.

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