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Smithsburg's new police chief sworn in

January 21, 1998

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

click below for larger image

Smithsburg's new police chief sworn in

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

SMITHSBURG - Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers pinned the police chief badge Tuesday on Vincent P. du Cellier Jr., former police chief in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Du Cellier, 60, replaces Tommy Bowers, whose August firing stirred emotions in the town.

"I'm aware that Chief Bowers was a popular guy. I know him," du Cellier said.

But du Cellier said he can't let the controversy, or Bowers looming court appeal of his firing, stand in the way of doing his job.

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"I accept that as a challenge. I'm hoping those folks who like Tommy Bowers will like me," he said.

In nearly five years as Berkeley Springs chief, du Cellier may have been best known for rejecting the town seal for the department's two police cruisers because it featured a bare-breasted young woman.

Residents were upset because they felt he was trying to replace the official seal, which represented a bather in the famous springs. Berkeley Springs is officially known as the Town of Bath.

Before working there, du Cellier was police chief in the small, southern Maryland town of North Beach.

He is retired from the Prince George's County Police Department.

With his new job, du Cellier is getting a pay raise - from $18,000 to $30,000 - even though he will have fewer responsibilities.

In Berkeley Springs, du Cellier supervised two officers, oversaw trash collection, applied for grants, acted as the town's treasurer and manager of the town cemetery.

In Smithsburg, he will return to his specialty as a working police chief.

The town's only other officer, Shawn Tyler, used to work with him in Berkeley Springs.

"We're a good team," he said.

Du Cellier was chosen as Smithsburg's chief by a selection committee made up of Myers, Town Clerk Betsy Martin, Fire Chief Ronald Jeter, Emergency Medical Services President Wayne Smith and three independent law enforcement officers.

During weeks of interviews and background checks, Myers said she heard these words describe du Cellier: Trustworthy, dependable, first-class guy, ethical, honest, straight shooter, well-respected, hard worker, excellent administrator, experienced.

"Pretty good words, wouldn't you say? I like those words," she said.

After the swearing-in ceremony Tuesday evening, Tyler took du Cellier for a tour of the town.

Du Cellier will work part time in Smithsburg for a week or two, until he completes unfinished business in Berkeley Springs.

He also plans to move closer to his new job.

Town of Bath officials were not surprised that du Cellier is leaving them.

"I just think that what has happened is he got an opportunity that would be hard to refuse," said Mayor Susan Webster.

Even Councilman David Welch, who disagreed with du Cellier on some issues, said he thinks du Cellier will do a good job for Smithsburg.

"He has handled those disagreements with maturity," Welch said. "I wish him well."

The nature of his job, wearing so many hats, made him vulnerable to criticism, Welch said.

"If he failed to do any of those jobs properly, people would get unhappy with him," Welch said.

Town of Bath officials will spend this winter reorganizing town government so the police chief doesn't have so many duties, Webster said.

Even as du Cellier prepares to take over his new duties, Bowers' appeal is pending.

Although a U.S. District Court judge upheld Myers' dismissal of Bowers, an appeal rests with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

If Bowers wins, the town could be faced with having two chiefs.

But du Cellier said he is not concerned.

"That's the purview of the courts," he said.

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