Martinsburg bids farewell to police chief

January 22, 1998


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Martinsburg Police Chief Wayne Cleveland said Thursday he wished he could have remained on the job longer than 31/2 years, but said he had become "an impediment to progress."

Today is Cleveland's last as chief before leaving to become chief of Hopewell, Va., a community of 25,000 near Richmond. A reception, attended by about 100 friends and co-workers, was held for him Thursday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal Church.

"I have a lot of regrets. If you're going to institute meaningful change, it takes about 10 years. Three-and-a-half years and you're just a flash in the pan," the chief said during the reception.


"It became perfectly clear to me and anyone close to the situation that I was becoming an impediment to progress," Cleveland said when asked why he decided to resign.

"I prefer not to elaborate," Cleveland said when asked for specific examples of how he was impeding progress. He also declined to say whether his relationship with Mayor Earnest Sparks or members of the City Council was a factor.

"Frankly, being a police chief ... dealing with crime is the easy part. The more challenging part is dealing with elected officials, administrators and personnel problems," Cleveland said.

Cleveland was hired as chief in August 1994. He came to the department from Montgomery County, Md., where he had been director of the Office of Community Policing.

"I think that was one of my mandates. That's my background," he said.

"The most meaningful thing we accomplished was the impact we had on two communities - Centre Street and Race Street," the chief said. He said both were "open-air drug markets" when he arrived, but the department worked diligently with residents to turn that around.

"We're not required there much anymore," he said.

"I can tell you crime has dropped dramatically while I was here," he said, although he refused to take sole credit. He said too many factors were at work to credit the decrease to just the police department.

Hopewell's crime rate has been rising over the past few years, Cleveland said. He said he believes crime there is influenced by its proximity to Richmond and Interstate 95.

Until the city hires a new chief, Capt. Ted Anderson will serve as acting chief.

"I have no intention of applying for the job at this time," Anderson said. He said he had no "intention to reinvent the wheel."

"I'm not going to expand on it any more than that," Anderson said.

Anderson said Cleveland helped put the department "back in touch with the people you serve."

Of his fellow officers, Anderson said most of them viewed Cleveland as "fair and ethical. I think they see (his leaving) as a loss for the department."

When Cleveland announced his resignation on Dec. 21, Councilman Oden Barrett placed the blame on Sparks. At the Jan. 8 meeting of the City Council, two city men presented a petition calling for the mayor to resign because of the resignations of Cleveland and other city officials.

Richard Anderson and Hubert Smith said the petition, which had no signatures, was being circulated. Sparks said he would not resign.

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