Col. Larry Suther retired after nearly 44 years in law enforcement, the past six with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. His final day on the force was Wednesday, Sept. 2 and he began his first day of retirement by calling in to the Board of Commissioners meeting, receiving thanks and congratulations from each of the commissioners.
Suther’s career began with the Baltimore County Police Department and he is a graduate of the University of Baltimore as well as the FBI National Academy. After retiring from BCPD as commander of the Special Operations Division, Suther was appointed by newly elected Sheriff Jim DeWees as chief deputy in December 2014.
During his time with the Sheriff’s Office, he oversaw all aspects of the Law Enforcement Bureau, as well as the administration of the Internal Affairs function within the office. Richard Hart, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 15 years, has been appointed to the rank of colonel and will take over the tasks of the Chief Deputy.
The Times caught up with Suther to discuss his career, the tension between police and protesters across the country and the future of the Sheriff’s Office.
Q: Why did you pursue law enforcement as a career?
A: I actually started in law enforcement as a cadet for Baltimore County Police Department. As a young man I wanted a job that offered challenges, some excitement and the opportunity to help others.
Q: I heard you studied at the FBI National Academy. What was that experience like?
A: The FBI Academy was a great opportunity afforded me when I was a lieutenant in Baltimore County. The Academy provides a semester of college level, undergrad and graduate training in law enforcement related issues from criminal law to media relations, forensics and criminal psychology. It also incorporated a strong component in physical and mental wellness for the law enforcement professional. Although, it took me away from my family for 11 weeks, it was time well spent.
Q: Where has your job taken you? What positions have you held?
A: I have worked in a number of positions from the rank of police officer to major in Baltimore County and most recently colonel of the Law Enforcement Bureau in Carroll County. I worked patrol for several years, mid-to-late -’70s, in Catonsville, particularly the Oella sector. At that time Oella was a working class, and in some cases, an impoverished area with outhouses still in use. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the folks in that area, striving to keep the community safe. I worked as a supervisor in a plain clothes unit, as well as patrol and detectives. After a couple years as the Precinct 12 (Dundalk) commander I spent the later part of my career in Baltimore County working in Homeland Security and Support Operations at the supervisor and command level overseeing tactical teams, aviation, K9, crash teams and the mobile crisis team.
Q: What are you most proud of having accomplished in your career?
A: I am most proud of the peaceful resolution of difficult incidents that I worked on throughout my career. All of those incidents required the combined efforts of a team of professionals dedicated to resolving highly volatile and dangerous situations with no harm to anyone involved. From patrol partners to tactical officers/deputies and hostage negotiators I have been blessed to have worked with some of the best in the business. People who truly had the best intentions in resolving those tough cases in the safest possible manner.
Q: There’s a lot of tension lately across the country between police and protesters. How has this affected your mindset? What do you want people to know about law enforcement’s perspective?
A: I believe that protest is an integral part of the fabric of the US history. I believe that the vast majority of law enforcement officers have and will continue to support the right to peaceful, lawful protests. From the Law Enforcement perspective, protesters cross the line when they engage in violence and destruction of the property of others. Every law enforcement professional knows that a protest that becomes lawless is a dangerous situation that requires a response to stop the lawlessness.
Q:. What are your hopes for the future of Carroll County Sheriff’s Office?
A: My experience with Carroll County Sheriff’s Office was great. It was challenging and rewarding to be part of a young agency that was continuing to evolve into a robust full service agency. Sheriff Jim DeWees is undoubtably one of the finest, most visionary law enforcement chief executives in the country. He oversees a command staff and rank and file that I believe are some of the finest you will find. The motto “Commitment to Community” is not just something written on the side of deputies’ cars; it is a philosophy of how to police every day in every community!