Pfc., Howard County (MD) Police Department
I joined the Howard County (MD) Police Department in 1972, coinciding with the early years of the “New Town” of Columbia. Up to that time Howard County, which sits between the cities of Baltimore and Washington, DC, was mostly rural, but was beginning an era of rapid growth and all county services were struggling to keep pace. The official census of 1970 listed the population as 62,000. Today it is a very diverse community of well over 300,000 people.
As with all new officers, my career started in the Patrol Division. The work was generally routine, handling anything that came along from loose cattle in the road to the occasional major felony case. After a dozen years “on the road” I transferred to our fledgling Crime Scene Unit and soon discovered an affinity for working in the world of Forensics. By 1990, I was certified by the IAI as a Senior Crime Scene Analyst, and later, a Certified Latent Print Examiner.
After twenty-one years in uniform, I chose early retirement and began work as a civilian fingerprint technician for the State of Maryland. Early in 1998 I returned to HCPD as a Crime Scene Technician/Latent Print Examiner and found myself involved in most of the major cases in the county, often testifying as an expert witness. Sworn and civilian, I have now worked in law enforcement for over forty-five years and am looking at full retirement in 2018.
Upon returning to HCPD I became involved with a small committee formed to plan a celebration of the history of the department in time for an upcoming anniversary. As with most committees each member was assigned a specific task and I took on the job of research and writing. Little did I know what I was getting into.
It started like any other investigation, reviewing what little initial information was available before locating and interviewing the “witnesses,” a number of our very first officers from the fifties. This also required searching local government records, court documents, and old newspaper articles to confirm details of the stories from those early officers. Somehow it all came together in a coherent story that was published in time for our 50th Anniversary in 2002.
The interest generated in our history led to the collecting of old uniforms and artifacts, then a search for space to set up a small display. Our small group was fortunate in obtaining space in the former post office building in the historic town of Ellicott City. After much planning and fund raising the Howard County Police Museum opened to the public in June 2014. The artifacts and information available is not just about the HCPD, but also the variety of law enforcement officers who worked in Howard County prior to the formation of that agency.
I hope this new national museum, like our small one, will serve as an inspiration not just to those who dedicate themselves to protecting our communities, but also to those citizens whose support is vital to that mission.