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Baltimore officer is leading candidate for police chief

September 21, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART and JULIE GREENEs

The commander of the Northeast District of the Baltimore City Police Department is the leading candidate to be Hagerstown's new police chief, City Councilman William Breichner said Tuesday.

Completion of a background check on Maj. Arthur Smith, 48, is the only thing that stands in the way of him being offered the job, Breichner said.

Breichner said Smith emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Dale Jones, who resigned in May, after the International Police Chiefs Association evaluated the five finalists from an initial pool of 70 applicants.

Attempts to reach Smith, a 26-year veteran, by telephone Tuesday were unsuccessful.

"They were all excellent candidates," Breichner said of the top five.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman wouldn't confirm that Smith was the top candidate or whether anyone had been offered the job.

"We are down to one lead candidate," Zimmerman said, noting city officials have met with that candidate.

Saying he hopes to have results of a background check soon, Zimmerman said he wasn't ready to "name names."

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Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he felt it would be inappropriate to comment on the identity of a prospective chief at this time.

Jones was making $71,510 a year when he left to head the law enforcement branch of the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Md.

Breichner said a salary for a new chief had not been determined.

Council members agreed to hire the police chiefs association to develop a profile of what the city should look for in a police chief and advertise the position in national publications.

Breichner said in June the elected officials and Zimmerman probably would have a say in selecting a finalist.

The association was authorized to do an extensive background check of the finalist.

The service was expected to cost $11,500 plus expenses, Zimmerman said in June.

Police Department Capt. Robert Hart has been serving as interim chief.

Hart, who didn't apply for the chief's position, said Tuesday that someone needs to be hired to get the department rolling again.

"I've been keeping things under control, but someone needs to take the reins and move the department on a positive track," Hart said.

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