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Smithsburg police chief job open again

September 21, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

SMITHSBURG - The Town of Smithsburg is searching for a police chief to replace Vincent duCellier, who resigned the post to take a job in Kosovo.

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DuCellier was hired as Smithsburg's police chief in January 1998. He replaced Tommy Bowers, who was fired by the Mayor and Town Council in August 1997 after three years as head of the town's police force. Bowers has since been elected mayor.

DuCellier, 61, was hired by DynCorp, a company that screens applicants to work in a United Nations program that trains police officers overseas. He signed a contract for a one-year tour of duty and on Sunday flew to Kosovo, where he will be stationed, according to his wife, T.J. duCellier.

DuCellier is the second area police officer to participate in the training program in Kosovo. Robert Voytko, who retired as a captain from Hagerstown City Police Captain, left for Kosovo earlier this year.

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Bowers said he was notified Tuesday that he will be receiving duCellier's letter of resignation in the mail this week.

"It's a good opportunity for him," he said.

Bowers, 49, said he was briefly interested in going to Kosovo, but decided he had an obligation to complete his term in office and didn't want to leave his family.

Bowers said he is undecided about whether to apply for his old job as police chief.

"The thought of it is enticing but I don't know what I am going to do," he said.

Calling it a Catch-22 situation, he said "It doesn't matter what decision I make, I'll catch criticism from one side or another."

Since Bowers would not be able to be both mayor and police chief, he would have to step down as mayor and apply for the job.

Even then there is no guarantee he would get the job. Three of the five Town Council members, Thomas Hornbecker, David Williams and James Cunningham, are holdovers from the previous council that voted to fire Bowers as police chief in 1997.

Williams said all the applicants will have to go through a review process before being considered for the job.

He said he spoke with Bowers previously about the mayor applying for the job.

"I don't know whether he will apply for the job or if he will be successful," said Williams.

Bowers, Williams and Cunningham said they were pleased with duCellier's performance as police chief and wished him well.

DuCellier found out about the U.N. program in July through Bowers, and decided it would be worthwhile, T.J. duCellier said.

"He came home and said 'I know what my next job's going to be,'" she said.

Two weeks ago, duCellier traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, for 10 days of psychological, intelligence and physical testing.

The top 150 applicants were selected to participate, T.J. duCellier said.

"He wasn't sure they would consider him at first" because of his age, she said. Her husband held his own during training, doing well in agility tests and excelling in a shooting contest, scoring 498 out a possible 500, she said.

DuCellier was told he was the oldest participant ever to be sent to Kosovo, she said.

He has been in law enforcement for 40 years, working as a police officer in Prince George's County for 29 years, and then as police chief in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and North Beach, Md., prior to taking the Smithsburg post.

DuCellier doesn't know where in Kosovo he will be stationed and it's up to him to find lodging, she said.

Her husband told her he is looking at the opportunity as an adventure, she said.

Head lice is rampant and the water is contaminated in Kosovo. Program participants were told not to use the local mail because of instances of tampering and theft, she said.

DuCellier will work 24-hour shifts each month followed by six days off and other leave can be earned, she said.

T.J. duCellier said she and her daughter are planning a trip to Greece for his time off, she said. In the interim they will keep in contact by e-mail, she said.

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