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Smithsburg police chief fired

August 13, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

SMITHSBURG - Smithsburg Police Chief Tommy Bowers was terminated Tuesday, immediately ending his three-year tenure with the tiny police department.

Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers confirmed Bowers is no longer the chief but declined to elaborate, saying it was a personnel matter.

"Thomas Bowers is no longer employed by the town of Smithsburg," she said.

Bowers, 47, said he was told to show up at 2 p.m. for a meeting with the Town Council. When he arrived, he said there were no council members present and that he was handed a termination letter signed by Myers and all the council members.

Council members reached at home on Tuesday declined to comment. Councilman Joe Slick said all questions would have to be directed to Myers.

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"We've been told not to say anything," he said.

Bowers said his dismissal caps a stormy relationship with Myers in which she asked him to resign four times since March. He said the letter did not cite a specific reason why he was dismissed.

"They're not happy with my performance. I've seen it coming. I love this job. I love this town. I love these people," he said.

Bowers suggested the action was political.

"I can still sleep at night because I did the right thing. I'm not going to get caught up in town politics," he said.

Bowers also said he has contacted a lawyer and is exploring his options.

"I'm not going to take this lightly," he said.

Bowers said he went to work on Monday and saw a Washington County sheriff's deputy there. He said the deputy told him he was asked to patrol the town.

Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades said Smithsburg regularly contracts for police service. He said the mayor and council purchase services on an as-needed basis to supplement the town's two-officer force.

Bowers was hired as chief on Sept. 7, 1994. Before that, he said he ran a business reconstructing traffic accidents for seven years and served in the Sheriff's Department for a decade before that.

During his tenure, the town increased the police force, adding Officer Shawn Tyler. Bowers said he hopes Tyler is left out of the dispute.

"Please don't put him in the middle. He needs a job. I back him 100 percent," he said.

Bowers shot a suspect shortly after joining Maryland State Police in a high-speed chase last November. He was placed on administrative leave following the incident.

After the incident, a Waynesboro, Pa., man was charged with assaulting a police officer, driving while intoxicated, destruction of property - a police car - and numerous traffic violations.

Aside from fighting his dismissal, Bowers said he has to look out for his family, including a daughter about to enter Hagerstown Junior College.

"I'll be in the unemployment line tomorrow," he said.

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