Melissa Hyatt confirmed unanimously as Baltimore County police chief; she's first woman to lead the department

The Baltimore County Council voted unanimously Monday night to confirm Melissa Hyatt as the next county police chief, making her the first woman to lead the department.

Hyatt, 43, a veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, is scheduled to start the job June 17. She will replace Chief Terrence Sheridan, who is retiring.

“I understand the unwavering need to work to strengthen public trust, build relationships with the community, and have strong, open lines of communication,” Hyatt told the council.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat, nominated Hyatt for the position in May and appeared at the meeting Monday as the council took up the confirmation vote.

Last week, Hyatt faced questions from Councilman Julian Jones about her career with the Baltimore Police, where she rose to the rank of colonel. Jones, who wanted Olszewski to pick an internal candidate, said he was concerned about corruption and other problems at the city agency.

On Monday, Jones voted with his six colleagues to confirm the nomination.

“Although I have tremendous concerns with some of the behavior of some in the Baltimore Police Department, I certainly don’t hold you responsible for that or paint you with the same brush,” Jones, a Woodstock Democrat, told Hyatt.

Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, a Middle River Democrat who served on a panel that interviewed candidates for the chief position, said the search “was not an easy task.” About 50 applied for the job.

“You’re sitting there because you deserve to be there,” Bevins said before the council voted and gave Hyatt a standing ovation. “This is a historic day in Baltimore County, for sure.”

Hyatt will lead an agency of about 1,900 officers.

Under her contract with the county, Hyatt will be paid a salary of $275,000 a year and will receive increases equal to cost-of-living adjustments received by the county’s uniformed police officers. The contract runs until December 2022, which is when Olszewski’s term ends.

The agreement allows Hyatt to hire a chief of staff “and other key personnel.” It says she “will work to ensure these hires have a minimal impact” on the department’s budget. The contract does not provide for severance pay if Hyatt is terminated for cause or resigns.

Hyatt worked for the city police department for two decades. Since last year, she has served as vice president for security at Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.

The council also unanimously confirmed Michael Mallinoff, Olszewski’s nominee for director permits, approvals and inspections.

Mallinoff is the former county administrator for Charles County.

Mallinoff previously served as chief operating officer of the Maryland Department of Information Technology; city manager of Annapolis and city manager of Newport, R.I. His salary for the new job is $205,000. Council Chairman Tom Quirk, an Oella Democrat, called his qualifications “exceptional.”

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