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Chief seeks overseas job

November 30, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said Monday he will temporarily leave his post as the city's top cop if the U.S. State Department selects him for an oversees consulting position.

Smith said Monday he could know by early 2005 whether he was selected for the job.

He said that State Department officials have told him he should know by January whether he was chosen for a consulting position, a post with a duration of up to one year. Smith said he was not guaranteed the position or any starting date.

"It can change 50 times between now and January," Smith said. "I'll worry about it when it gets a little closer."

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Smith declined to provide further details of the State Department position. He said he signed an agreement that prohibits him from divulging specifics about the job.

Smith became chief of Hagerstown's police department in November 1999 after nearly 26 years with the Baltimore City Police Department. In September, he officially asked the city for a leave of absence.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said the leave of absence was supported by Mayor William Breichner and the Hagerstown City Council and granted that month.

Zimmerman credited Smith for his work, which included taking a more aggressive approach to fighting the local drug trade, the placement of surveillance cameras in the Jonathan Street and downtown areas to increase safety and the creation of several progressive, community-based initiatives.

"He's been a very good police chief for Hagerstown," Zimmerman said Monday. "He has brought a strong focus on street crime and has been very supportive of our neighborhoods."

Zimmerman said Smith's temporary replacement, in the capacity of acting chief, would come from the ranks of the city department.

The highest ranking officers at the department below Smith are Capt. John Moulton and Capt. Charles Summers. Neither was available for comment Monday evening.

Zimmerman would not release information about who on the force might replace Smith if he were chosen for the State Department job. He said no preliminary decisions have been made on the pending personnel matter.

"It would be premature for me to talk about such candidates," Zimmerman said.

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