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Pickets for Bowers stand firm

August 20, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

SMITHSBURG - A handful of protesters picketed outside town hall for a second straight day Wednesday and others appeared unimpressed by an explanation provided by town officials for Tommy Bowers' dismissal as police chief last week.

Sherry Owen, a member of the Citizens Police Advisory Committee, blamed the low turnout on the weather. But she said Bowers' supporters remain firm in their resolve to win his job back.

Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers and the Town Council on Tuesday night released a three-page statement outlining their reasons for relieving Bowers of his duties. The statement said he filed late crime reports, conducted inadequate investigation of citizen's complaints against the police department and failed to report a traffic accident in which a police car was damaged.

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But Owen discounted the explanation.

"She (Myers) waited too long to bring it out," she said.

Myers could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mike Hurley, who lives on Stanley Hauver Drive, criticized town officials for not having a more frank discussion in public about Bowers' performance.

"I was shocked that the Town Council took a secret vote and fired him," he said.

Local governments routinely discuss personnel matters behind closed doors.

Debbie Campbell, a secretary who works for the town, said she submitted a resignation letter three weeks ago in part because of the tension between Myers and Bowers. Friday is to be her last day on the job, she said.

Campbell disputed the validity of several reasons the mayor and council gave for the dismissal and questioned whether others warranted termination.

"I think they were weak reasons to dismiss him," she said. "I'm a bit disappointed in all my elected officials today."

Bowers on Wednesday referred all questions to his attorney, Lewis C. Metzner, who said the former chief was deeply troubled by some statements made by town officials in Tuesday's newspaper.

"Things are pretty hot right now," he said.

Residents lobbying for Bowers to be reinstated as police chief should look to the political process, not a legal solution, Metzner said.

That's exactly what supporters are doing, said Owen. She said residents plan to meet at Bisbee's Auctioneering at 3 Maple Ave. at 7 p.m. on Friday to discuss amending the Town Charter and challenging Myers.

"We want her job. The people have a voice. The people have a way of getting heard," she said.

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