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Captain takes the helm while police chief's away

February 08, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Capt. Charles Summers grew up in Hagerstown, graduated from high school in Hagerstown and now, at least temporarily, he is in charge of Hagerstown's police department.

Summers began serving as acting chief of the Hagerstown Police Department nearly three weeks ago, after Chief Arthur Smith reported to an evaluation program for a possible U.S. Department of State job. He will continue to fill in for Smith for up to one year now that Smith was selected for a temporary assignment in either Iraq or Afghanistan, city officials said.

Although the city has not made a formal appointment, officials have said Summers will be acting chief during Smith's absence.

Summers, 46, said Sunday that he sees his role over the next year as holding Smith's place and staying on the course Smith set for policing in Hagerstown.

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"We want to see Art (Smith) back here as soon as he can. I'm enjoying this experience, but I can't wait to talk to him about his experience out of the country," Summer said. "I just hope he gets back safe and sound."

In the meantime, Summers said he will try to keep things going for Smith, who became chief of the city department in November 1999 after nearly 26 years with the Baltimore City Police Department.

Summers said Smith brought not only a wealth of knowledge from his days as an officer in Baltimore, but he also brought an intense work ethic to the department.

"Art was not a 40-hours-a-week person," he said. "The most intimidating part is trying to maintain that connectivity with the public and putting as much effort into it as he did."

Summers graduated from South Hagerstown High School in 1974, from Hagerstown Junior College in 1992 and from a program at the FBI National Academy in 2001.

He became interested in pursuing a career as a police officer in the late 1970s. While working at a retail store specializing in sporting goods, he met several law enforcement officers in a karate class.

"Being in the class with a bunch of cops kinda drew me to the business," Summers said.

After graduating from the Western Maryland Police Academy in 1979, Summers worked as a patrol officer for about a dozen years.

In the 1990s, Summers became the supervisor of the department's narcotics unit and, eventually, the Washington County Narcotics Task Force. Summers said working on drug investigations was the aspect of his career he enjoyed most despite the many times when "your pager's going off all night." He said it is truly an "action-oriented" position.

"I really liked not only the complexity, but that none of them (cases) were exactly the same," Summers said. "You'd leave here on any given day and don't know where surveillance would lead you."

Summers said his time with the city department has been even more special because he is serving his hometown.

"It gives you a sense of connectivity with the community. I've seen this city grow up over the last 40 years," he said.

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