Two of the Hagerstown Police Department’s most seasoned officers were promoted to the rank of captain during a ceremony Thursday at City Hall.
Lts. Paul Kifer Jr. and Tom Langston were sworn in as captains by Mayor David Gysberts before a large gathering of friends, family members and fellow officers in the Hagerstown City Council chambers.
“I started as a patrol officer and never dreamed that I would be standing here right now with captain’s bars on my collar,” Kifer said after the ceremony. “It’s been a fast ride. Twenty-one years has gone by very quickly, and I have to give credit where credit is due.”
Kifer and Langston said they were eager to take on their new roles.
“I’m looking forward to new challenges and working with the guys to help the city,” Langston said.
Langston, 42, will command the police department’s Operations Bureau, which will contain the Patrol, Special Operations and Civilian Services divisions.
He started his career in law enforcement with the Baltimore City Police Department in 1996 after serving seven years in the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of sergeant as a counterintelligence special agent.
He said he moved to Hagerstown in 1999 to be closer to his family.
Langston has served with Hagerstown police as a patrol officer, street crimes detective, Electronic Surveillance Unit team leader, patrol supervisor and street crimes supervisor.
He also has commanded a patrol platoon, served as lieutenant in command of the Investigative Services Division and acting patrol commander.
Kifer, 47, served as acting captain before he officially was promoted to that rank on Thursday.
He will command the newly organized Special Services Bureau, which includes the Investigative, Training and Safety, and Internal Affairs divisions.
Kifer has been with the city department since 1992. During his career, he has served as a patrol officer, patrol supervisor, Criminal Investigations Division sergeant and commander of the Joint City-County Crisis Negotiation Team.
In addition, Kifer has commanded a patrol platoon. He also served as the Downtown Sector manager and has been the acting operations commander since 2012.
Under Kifer’s leadership, the police department’s Special Response Team’s negotiators have become nationally recognized for tactical effectiveness and excellence in educating other agencies in negotiating skills, according to a police department news release.
Hagerstown Police Chief Mark Holtzman said Kifer and Langston were promoted because of their leadership and commitment to the community.
“They have worked in a number of different divisions and large cases,” Holtzman said.
He said sergeants will not be promoted to fill the lieutenant positions vacated by Kifer and Langston.
Before Thursday, the department had an acting captain and six lieutenants, Holtzman said. Now, the department will have five lieutenants and two captains.
During the promotion ceremony, Gysberts thanked the families of officers in the audience, saying he appreciated the worries they endure while their loved ones are “out there 24/7, putting their lives on the line.”