Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare announced his retirement Tuesday night, ending two decades with the department in which he worked his way up from patrolman to top cop.
Altomare’s retirement is effective Aug. 1. He said he was calling it quits because he won’t stand for efforts to remove the teeth from policing, a movement he believes will endanger the public and police, citing a spike in violent crime.
His announcement is set amid national unrest following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, which sparked protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Altomare denounced the actions of the Minneapolis officers involved in Floyd’s killing and has attended rallies and prayer walks. But he maintains that the county police department has not systemically failed anyone.
But his announcement also comes just a few days after a Black man sued Anne Arundel County, its police department and three detectives claiming that a white officer knelt on the handcuffed man’s neck for several minutes. Daniel Jarrells suffered minor injuries after the arrest and charges against him were thrown out by prosecutors because he was arrested improperly.
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Altomare said the lawsuit didn’t factor into his farewell, though he said he would have held the officer accountable. He said he has always held officers who do wrong accountable.
“My conscience dictates my retirement,” the outgoing chief wrote in a memorandum to county officials announcing his two weeks notice.
County Executive Steuart Pittman called Altomare an outstanding police chief.
“He took a divided and damaged department in 2014 and implemented more of the 21st Century Policing Task Force reforms than any Maryland department that I know of. He doubled our number of African American sworn officers, implemented Fair and Impartial Policing training for all officers, and made our Crisis Intervention Teams the best in the world,” he wrote in a statement.
He said the chief built strong relationships in every community, and with his own officers.
“Personally, I will miss Tim Altomare, but I intend to call him often, as we continue his work building the best police department in Maryland,” he wrote.
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Altomare was appointed as chief in 2014 by then-incoming County Executive Steve Schuh, a Republican. He replaced Chief Kevin Davis under whom he served as captain, commanding the department’s Northern and Southern District stations in Brooklyn Park and Edgewater.
At the time of his promotion, as he leaped over the ranks of major, deputy chief and assistant chief in the Millersville command staff, he was described by the longtime leader of the county’s police union as a “cop’s cop.”
He was seen as a choice meant to heal divisions within the department lingering from the administration of County Executive John R. Leopold. Davis was hired after a career in Prince George’s County by Leopold’s appointed replacement, County Executive Laura Neuman. Schuh picked Altomare as someone outside of the Leopold power structure but still part of the department.
Police Chief James Teare Sr. agreed to retire in 2012, ending the criminal investigation of his role in the misconduct case against Leopold. Leopold was later convicted of abusing his office for ordering his police security detail to take on chores for his 2010 reelection campaign and of directing county employees to perform personal tasks.
Though Teare was not charged, the indictment embroiled him in controversy. Detectives on the security detail said they complained about Leopold and Teare did not stop him. Amid the fallout, police unions and then the Anne Arundel County Council issued votes of no confidence in Teare. Unions asked him to resign.
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Altomare announced his retirement to rank and file officers in an announcement at 8:14 p.m. Tuesday.
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“Ladies and Gentlemen, let me start by saying I love you. You are a magnificent team of which I am and always have been extraordinarily proud to be a part,” he wrote in the brief message. “The time has come, however, for me to leave the team.”
Altomare joined the county police force in 1998 after working as an officer for five years with the Annapolis Police Department. By 2007 he was a sergeant and a police spokesman. He worked narcotics and special operations.
He was sworn in for the second time in May 2019 under Pittman, whom he worked under for a little over a year.
“People seem to love the guy like he’s everyone’s brother,” Pittman said at Altomare’s second Oath of Office in Brooklyn Park.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.