Westminster Council votes in Maj. Thomas Ledwell as new police chief

Westminster Police Department Maj. Thomas Ledwell was confirmed as the city's new police chief Monday, Feb. 25, at the mayor and common council meeting.
Westminster Police Department Maj. Thomas Ledwell was confirmed as the city's new police chief Monday, Feb. 25, at the mayor and common council meeting. (Alex Mann / Carroll County Times)

After months of searching outside its police department, Westminster has found an internal successor to retiring police Chief Jeff Spaulding, the Common Council decided Monday, Feb. 25.

Maj. Thomas Ledwell, deputy chief of the Westminster Police Department, will take command once Spaulding officially retires on Friday. The five-member council voted unanimously Monday, at the same meeting at which they bid Spaulding farewell, to confirm Mayor Joe Dominick’s recommendation of Ledwell.


“(Ledwell) is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met,” Dominick told the Times before the council meeting Monday. “He knows the city. He knows the challenges that we face. …

“When we look at the type of police chief we want, I think he’s exactly what we all have in mind.”

Ledwell told the Times after being confirmed as chief that he was honored to be named chief and that he pledged to continue Spaulding’s progress in making the department “the most professional law enforcement agency possible.”

Dominick, and Council President Robert Wack, Councilman Tony Chiavacci and other members of the elected body presented Spaulding with plaques and declarations honoring his 15 years of service to the city. Carroll County Commissioners Steven Wantz and Dennis Frazier presented a collective commissioner proclamation.

Wack said that bringing Ledwell to the department was “another validation of the positive impact the chief’s had on the city.”

Westminster Police Chief Jeff Spaulding announced his retirement Tuesday after 45 years in Maryland law enforcement and 15 with the city of Westminster.

Spaulding, who attended his last mayor and council meeting as chief Monday, said that with Ledwell in command, the department is in good hands.

“He has contributed vastly to the Westminster Police Department during his time here,” Spaulding told the Times. “He’s the consummate professional; he’s incredibly intelligent and forward thinking; and I think he will serve the city and the department, and continue to push it forward.”

Ledwell joined the Westminster Police Department as deputy chief in 2015 after serving for 22 years — including as chief — at the Frederick Police Department. The Frederick department is about three-times bigger than Westminster’s, said Chiavacci, who serves on the city’s public safety committee.

“He ran the entire tactical units (sic) over there,” Chiavacci told the Times before the council meeting Monday. “He was in administrative roles over there. He was in command roles, leadership roles. He ran shifts.

“He rose up through the ranks starting as a patrolman all the way to chief of police, and that’s pretty impressive — especially in an organization of that size.”

Spaulding announced his retirement in November and the city has been searching for his replacement since.

A panel composed of Dominick, Chiavacci, City Administrator Barb Matthews, City Human Resources Director Darlene Childs, Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees and Cumberland Chief of Police Charles Hinnant conducted initial interviews with about five candidates, who city staff had selected from more than 100 applications submitted.

The committee, Chiavacci and Dominick said, included law enforcement officials to provide professionally informed insight. DeWees was included because his organization works closely with Westminster police and Hinnant because Cumberland is similar in size to Westminster, the elected official detailed.

DeWees said in a written statement that Ledwell stood out among a strong group of candidates and that his agency is “looking forward to continuing the incredibly cooperative atmosphere that existed under Chief Spaulding.”


Their search included candidates from across the country, however the committee and later council concluded the best option was already at the department.

“We made sure that the person we picked was the absolute best person available at this time to us,” Chiavacci said. “At the end of the day it turned out to be Maj. Ledwell.

“And it wasn’t Maj. Ledwell because he’s been the deputy chief for a couple of years, it was Maj. Ledwell because he’s the best available guy for the job right now.”

Chiavacci and Dominick described Ledwell as exceptionally smart, a data-driven police officer.

They highlighted his emphasis on communication and community policing, said he already worked well with bigger agencies — the Sheriff’s Office and Maryland State Police — that aid the smaller city police department.

Promoting from within will make for a smoother transition, Chiavacci added. “Without a shadow of a doubt, the fact that he ended up being the best available guy certainly makes the transition almost instantaneous because he’s already been in the department … he’s already been running significant parts of the agency as is.”