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Arthur R. Smith selected as city police chief

September 23, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Baltimore City Police Maj. Arthur R. Smith was named chief of Hagerstown's police department Thursday.

Smith, 49, who has been on the Baltimore City force since 1973, was selected from a field of 65 candidates.

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He is expected to take the reins of the nearly 100-officer Hagerstown City Police Department on Nov. 1 at a salary of $63,211.

"I like the town and it's a challenging position," said Smith, who has been district commander for Baltimore's Northeastern District.

He will replace Dale Jones who resigned in May to head the law enforcement branch of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Captain Robert Hart has served as acting chief since Jones' departure.

Smith said the first order of business will be to familiarize himself with Hagerstown's ordinances and policies.

He has already started assimilating information about Hagerstown's police department provided him by the city, he said.

"I want to hit the ground running," he said.

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Smith said his is aware of Hagerstown's continuing problem with the open air drug market and considers squelching it a challenge.

"I know if I am successful I will feel like I've really accomplished something," he said.

Smith is no stranger to Washington County.

He said his grandparents had lived in the Trego area near Boonsboro. "I have been coming here since I was a small child to visit my grandparents," Smith said.

Married and the father of three children, Smith is a 1968 graduate of Northwestern High School. He holds a degree in math from American University in Washington, D.C., and has a master's in economics from the University of Baltimore.

He currently supervises more than 200 people in the 16-square-mile Northeastern District, which has 140,000 residents.

Smith is in charge of patrol, drug enforcement, major crimes, special operations, and a community-oriented policing program in the Northeastern District.

He has commanded a tactical division, street crimes unit, foot patrol and quick-response team. He was promoted to sergeant in 1977, lieutenant in 1982 and major in 1995.

Smith also served in the Northwestern District Office of the Police Commissioner.

"I have mixed feelings about leaving but when I heard about the opening it immediately interested me," he said.

Hagerstown residents can expect to see some changes when Smith takes charge, said Hagerstown City Councilman J. Wallace McClure.

"He has a little more attention to detail and his officers are going to have to have more attention to detail," he said.

Hagerstown City Council advertised the police chief position in national and regional law enforcement publications. The city was assisted in its search by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

In accordance with Hagerstown's charter, the police chief was appointed by City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman with the advice and consent of Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and council.

A press conference to introduce Smith will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in the City Council chambers.

"Major Smith is an excellent fit for our community. He brings extensive experience in the command of drug enforcement initiatives and other street operations," said Bruchey in a press release.

"He has dealt with the open air drug dealing problem that we are experiencing in some areas of our city. In addition, the city was especially impressed with Major Smith's work with residents and neighborhood associations," Bruchey said.

Smith has worked with 20 neighborhood groups in his district.

"Major Smith has a good reputation for establishing strong relationships among the personnel he has commanded," said Zimmerman in a press release.

"He is well-respected by all ranks of the Baltimore Police, as well as, by members of the community he has served. I believe Major Smith's combination of command, administrative and street level experience will serve our department very well. His record indicates he has been a strong leader with good people," he said.

Smith said he has more than 20 years of experience as a supervisor and has developed a flexible management style.

Smith said as police chief, he will establish an "open-door policy."

"You get a lot more work out of happy cops than out of disgruntled ones," he said.

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