State Police Superintendent Sheridan leaving after four years

Transportation Authority Police Chief Brown to take over job

July 22, 2011|By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

Col. Terrence B. Sheridan, who capped a nearly five-decade career in law enforcement by leading the Maryland State Police through nearly all of Gov. Martin O'Malley's tenure, will retire at the end of July.

Marcus L. Brown, who has been chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police since 2007, has been named his replacement. The governor chose Brown to run the authority when he was second in command of the Baltimore Police Department.

"Colonel Sheridan has done a tremendous job leading the more than 2,500 employees of the Maryland State Police," O'Malley said in his announcement. "With 46 years of law enforcement experience, Colonel Sheridan helped strengthen our relationship with local, state and federal law enforcement to improve public safety and homeland security."

Sheridan, a former Baltimore County chief, guided the agency through a spying scandal involving protesters that occurred during a previous governor and superintendent, but broke publicly under his watch. Under Sheridan, new policies were put in place and lawmakers turned that into law.

Sheridan also guided the agency through the 2008 crash of a state police MedEvac helicopter, which killed four people.

Known as a private man, the 67-year-old Sheridan was long well-regarded for his management style, said Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson, who worked under Sheridan for many years. He said Sheridan's poise under pressure was notable, as was his lesson to keep "staying focused on what matters most, separating what is important from what is critical. Focus on the reduction of crime no matter what the multitude of demands are."

Sheridan's stint as superintendent was his second with the state police; he retired after 30 years in 1995 as a lieutenant colonel in charge of drug enforcement.

"Every day he would see you and say, 'Have you made an arrest today?' His daily concern was 'Are you out there having an impact on public safety?'" said Gregory M. Shipley, the state police spokesman, who worked was a trooper under Sheridan's command of the Westminster barracks.

He shepherded the agency through technological changes, including efforts to eliminate a backlog in DNA tests and an overhaul of the computer dispatch and recordkeeping management systems.

Over the years, he had roles in the formation of firearms task forces that include local, state and federal agencies and of a Mid-Atlantic gang information clearinghouse.

Shane Schapiro, president of the union representing MdTA officers, said in an email that Brown, the transportation authority chief, got high marks for working to make sure officers had "great training, good equipment and enjoyed their jobs."

He was known on his force to personally congratulate arresting officers.

The MdTA under Brown has been recognized by federal officials for enhancements in airport and other security. Brown added to officers' diversity training, and the agency became more visible in community activities, organizing runs to benefit Maryland Special Olympics.

Brown was a 42-year-old deputy city police commissioner with a law degree from the University of Baltimore and when O'Malley named him to be chief of the transportation authority police, which protects the port and airport, along with toll facilities, bridges and stretches of Maryland highways.

He left the city force under controversy, allowed to take nearly a full pension despite having worked for the department 17 years, three years shy of being eligible. The city police union challenged with a lawsuit but withdrew it on the advice of counsel. The city solicitor's office issued an opinion that officials did not break the rules with the pension.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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