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The visible chief

July 04, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

BOONSBORO

karenh@herald-mail.com

The Town of Boonsboro's new police chief grew up in the area, bicycled its streets and graduated from Boonsboro High School in 1977.

Now that the town police force is back in action, Jeff Hewett is hoping to become even more familiar to area residents.

"That's a big thing for me. I want to be a community-oriented police officer. That means getting out and walking the streets and talking to the people, talking to the business owners - just being accessible," Hewett said.

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Dressed in bike-officer shorts and a short-sleeved shirt - badges for the town's police uniforms have been ordered - Hewett talked Sunday about his plans to increase police visibility.

The Boonsboro Town Council voted in May to start its own department.

The police force, which consists of Hewett and Officer Jeff Shifler, started Friday. The two officers planned to meet with residents during Fourth of July festivities Sunday at Shafer Park.

Police service was provided previously by the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

A retired Maryland State Police criminal investigator, Hewett, 46, worked for five years in Boonsboro as one of its two resident deputies. Now, he's in charge.

"This is kind of the icing on the cake for my law-enforcement career," Hewett said.

Hewett joined the Baltimore City Police Department as a cadet after graduating from Boonsboro High School. The following year, he became a Maryland State Police trooper. He served as a criminal investigator for about 15 years before retiring in 1999, he said.

In June 2000, he came to work in Boonsboro for the Sheriff's Department.

The town last had a police force of its own in the early 1980s, Mayor Charles "Skip" Kauffman has said.

The town's two police vehicles, a cruiser and a SUV, now sport new decals featuring a Conestoga wagon. Hewett not only oversees the two-man department, he also helped design the new logos.

Like Hewett, the vehicles are holdovers from the town's days in the resident-deputy program.

The town retained ownership of the vehicles it bought to outfit the Sheriff's Department program, Hewett said.

According to Hewett, residents' major complaints when he was a resident deputy included concerns about juveniles, speeding and police visibility. He hopes they'll be seeing a lot more of him, now that the growing town has its own force.

"One thing I definitely want to do - whatever officers come on board - is cover every street at least twice a shift," Hewett said.

Hewett acknowledged the town and its small force still has a "Mayberry" feel - his passion for police work originally grew from watching "Matt Dillon, Andy Griffith, 'Gunsmoke' 'Adam-12' and all those shows," he said - but the new houses going up in Boonsboro mean the need for services will increase.

"I'd like within the next 10 years to see five full-time officers here," Hewett said.

As a resident deputy, Hewett said he often was called away to respond to calls in neighboring towns.

Now, Boonsboro's residents have a force they can call their own.

"This kind of gives the town their own identity, too," Hewett said.

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