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Taneytown police chief resigns after federal agents raid police department and his home

Alex Mann
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

Taneytown officials accepted the resignation of police Chief William Tyler Wednesday, a little over two weeks after federal agents executed a search warrant on the Taneytown Police Department and Tyler’s residence in Pennsylvania.

Tyler and another officer, whom city officials have declined to identify, were placed on administrative leave immediately after agents from both the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives executed the search warrants Jan. 15.

“The city is still evaluating the underlying situation,” according to a news release from the city.

Taneytown maintains the “public safety needs of the city have not been compromised and will continue to be met,” the release states.

Lt. Jason Etzler assumed command of the Police Department after Tyler was placed on leave, and he will continue to lead the department. Acting City Manager Jim Wieprecht told the Carroll County Times that city officials are still developing a plan for replacing Tyler.

The release from the city confirmed that federal agents executed a search warrant at Tyler’s residence on Sydnor Trail in Fairfield. FBI officials previously had only confirmed that warrants were executed at two locations in the Pennsylvania town.

FBI activity was also reported Jan. 15 on Mile Trail in Fairfield. Taneytown police Sgt. Brian Jestes lives on Mile Trail, according to the Adams County Tax Services Department. Officials have not confirmed whether Jestes was the other officer placed on leave.

No charges have been filed as a result of the warrants as of Wednesday, and the warrants remain sealed.

Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore, previously told the Times no additional information would be released about the search until the warrants were unsealed, adding that any person involved is innocent until they are convicted in court.

Whether charges are filed in such federal cases depends on what investigators discover in the searches, Murphy said. There is no time frame or guarantee the case will be unsealed, she said.

About five months prior to the Police Department being raided by federal agencies, the City of Taneytown received an anonymous complaint from a “concerned officer” that called into question the department’s leadership and alleged that equipment was regularly purchased for personal use. The Carroll County Times obtained a copy of the complaint through a Public Information Act request.

The Sept. 7 complaint letter, signed “Concerned Officer,” alleged the department is “ruled by fear,” naming Tyler and Etzler.

The author wrote that “special” flashlights and communication headsets were purchased for personal use, and that ammunition “mysteriously disappeared” from the department.

Councilman Joe Vigliotti, who is the city’s police liaison, said Tyler wanted to address the allegations right away and called Vigliotti to the police station on East Baltimore Street.

Vigliotti, who writes a regular column for the Times, told the paper that everything seemed to be in order at the department when he visited and that Tyler was “exhaustive” in showing the councilman where everything alleged to have been purchased for personal use was located.

After their monthly meeting Sept. 10, the city’s mayor and council entered a closed session to address the complaint.

Mayor James McCarron; Council members Vigliotti, Judy Fuller and Bradley Wantz; Wieprecht; City Clerk Clara Kalman; and City Attorney Jay Gullo attended the closed-door meeting. The minutes detail that Tyler and Jestes — the city’s two longest-tenured police officials — were also present at the closed session. Jestes is regularly assigned to watch over most council meetings.

No action was taken regarding the anonymous complaint, according to the closed session minutes, which the Times also obtained through a Public Information Act request.

After questioning Tyler, council members say there was no need to discuss further action or potentially having a larger law enforcement agency perform an audit or investigation. Tyler had a reasonable answer for all the concerns raised by the complaint, council members in attendance at the closed session told the Times in separate interviews.

alex.mann@carrollcountytimes.com

667-367-4291

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