Manchester Town Council supports securing chief with contract

Manchester Town Council supports securing chief with contract
Manchester Police Chief John Hess is pictured following his swearing-in at the November 2013 town meeting. (Jon Kelvey / The Advocate)

The Manchester Town Council expressed support for contracting Manchester Police Chief John Hess during the Tuesday, Nov. 13 meeting of the Manchester Mayor and Town Council.

The meeting marked the five-year anniversary of when Hess became chief and he has served as an at-will employee during that time.


Mayor Ryan Warner said the move was beneficial for the town and Hess and would offer both security moving forward.

The council voted unanimously to support offering Hess the five-year contract, though the motion was short of ratifying the contract, which falls under the purview of Human Resources.

Warner said the department was somewhat of “a mess” prior to Hess coming on board. “We struggled to find the right leadership and Chief Hess has really solidified that department for the past five years to the point where we’re now … considered to be one of the top departments in Carroll County,” he said.

Hess was sworn in during the town’s November 2013 meeting, ending a period of 1 ½ years when the department had no chief. Hess is a resident of the town since 1993 and a former Baltimore City police officer. At the time of his appointment, he said his focus would be on building relationships between the police department and the town, according to previous Times reporting.

As of Tuesday’s meeting, the town was in the process of negotiating the contract with Hess, and members of the Town Council had seen a copy. Town staff looked to contracts from nearby municipalities for best practices and have reviewed the contract with the town attorney and Human Resources.

“We’re at a point where we’d like to move forward,” Warner said. “It’s a new thing for the town and not something we’ve done with a police chief position before.”

“We’ve come a long way collectively,” Hess said at the meeting. “I really appreciate everything the town’s done for me, but more importantly, the team. “There’s a lot that goes on in this town, I tell you … I’ve got to truly say that coming from a bigger department, this town truly does more with less. Trust me.”

In the past five years, “Our main goal was to get crime down and we did. And we’ve got the citizens talking to us, and without the citizens and the police department working hand-in-hand, you’re not going to accomplish much ... not in today’s society.”

Warner cited a previous incident surrounding use of a ball field and neighbor’s concerns.

“The police department was really instrumental in getting out and talking to all the stakeholders, all the neighbors and not everybody has that kind of community policing going on where everybody walked away from that situation, or virtually everybody, feeling like they got what they wanted and they feel at peace with this scenario,” he said.

“I personally have been very happy with the job the chief has been doing and I hope that he’s here as long as I’m here.”

During his report representing the police department later in the meeting, Hess said the department charged two individuals in the month of October and responded to 97 calls for service, 22 of which were out of town, he reported.

“When arrests are down, it’s good,” he said. “Last year, we ended with 103 arrests. This year so far, I know we’re into November and we have 46 and that’s a plus. The less that we’re locking up, the better that we’re doing. That’s just my personal opinion.”

Crime has dropped, he said, and the most prominent crime in the town is theft, many times committed by individuals coming from outside the town.


“I can’t stress enough,” he said, “keep your lights on, keep your door locked, because there’s thieves out there that will try 100 cars looking for a few unlocked.”