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Meeting on Bowers will be 'wild'

September 02, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

and STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writers

SMITHSBURG - Supporters of fired Smithsburg Police Chief Tommy Bowers plan to show up en masse at the Town Council meeting tonight at 7 p.m., said organizer Sherry Owen.

The meeting "will probably be the longest in the history of Smithsburg. It's going to be a wild meeting," Owen said.

Bowers said Monday that he had thought about going to see what the mayor and council would say about him, but probably won't go.

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"I just wanted to see if they had the guts to say anything else. They are just trying to destroy my character," he said.

Bowers said he would have someone tape the meeting in case he's slandered.

"If they want a war, I'll give it to them."

Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said Monday that the firing of the chief was not on the agenda but that there is a public comment period, usually at the end of the meeting.

Myers said she stands by a statement critical of Bowers that was released by the mayor and council.

Myers said she's received several calls of support and said that most of the people that have contacted her have faith in her and the five council members.

The firing of Bowers Aug. 13 has turned the town upside down with protests, pickets, and a recall effort.

Owen said Bowers supporters also plan to meet at Bisbee's Auctioneering at 3 Maple Ave. at 7 p.m. Friday to discuss plans to recall the mayor and council.

Meanwhile, not all of Smithsburg backs Bowers.

Debi Pisko, who lives on Amanda Drive, said she grew tired of reading newspaper stories that described Bowers as a "law-and-order cop." She supported the decision to dismiss him.

Pisko said she has witnessed lax enforcement when Bowers was on duty, including letting children ride bicycles without wearing helmets and failing to deal properly with a minor assault.

But Bowers said he had more important things to worry about than bike helmets, like keeping drugs off the street. Bowers also said he was arranging to have free bike helmets passed out to the poor kids in town before he was dismissed.

Pisko said pro-Bowers demonstrators, who have picketed outside Town Hall for days, have focused on personal feelings, not the department's performance.

"The public has gotten involved on a very emotional level," she said.

Pisko, who described Bowers as an "avoid-conflict-at-all-costs kind of cop," said he handed out toys to the children but sometimes balked when enforcing the law might anger people. She said she would call the Washington County Sheriff's Department before she would the Smithsburg department.

"He doesn't want anyone to be mad at him. That's his whole thing. To lose him as a police officer will not be a big thing," Pisko said.

Bowers agreed Monday that he wasn't a "law and order" cop. He said his goal was to keep the peace and handle situations without arresting people for minor offenses if possible.

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