Smithsburg police chief to retire

October 25, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

SMITHSBURG - After almost six years at the head of Smithsburg's police department, the town's police chief, Michael Potter, has announced his decision to retire from a 40-year-long career in law enforcement to spend more time with his family.

"It was a challenge, and I enjoyed it," Potter said. "It's just time to take a breather."

Potter's last day will be Friday, and Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said she hopes to hire a new chief within six weeks.

Since he took the job in January 2002, Potter has been in charge of running the department and overseeing the town's three police officers in addition to patrolling the streets himself.

"In the town of Smithsburg, the chief is a working chief," Myers said. "It's not just administrative, it's a combination of administrative (duties) plus patrolling."


Potter brought a sense of professionalism to the department as it grew from one small room to a larger area with a foyer and office, Myers said. She also commended the chief on his willingness to tackle an after-school traffic problem that had been plaguing the town for years.

"He goes up when the buses come out of the high school and middle school and stands out and stops traffic and sees that the buses are out, and it helps the kids get across the street," Myers said.

Potter worked as a Hagerstown Police Department officer before spending more than 20 years as a road trooper and criminal investigator for Maryland State Police. He retired from that job in 2001, then decided to try the often slower-paced small-town police job.

Lately, he said, he's regretted not having more time to spend with his two children, who are 8 and 10.

"If you're a dedicated professional policeman, you give your whole mind to the job, and unfortunately, sometimes that's at the expense of your family," Potter said. "My family is the most important thing now."

"I just turned 60. That means I'm an old man officially," he added. "I need some downtime."

Myers, who will be in charge of interviewing and hiring the new chief, said she is looking for someone state-certified, ready to step right in and take the reins, and eager to help the department grow.

"That's important," she said. "I want to make sure all the officers have the equipment they need to keep them safe and keep our community safe."

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