Hampstead new police chief looking forward to meeting community

Hampstead new police chief looking forward to meeting community
New Hampstead Police ChiefSteve Gossage (right) with outgoingChief Ken Meekins (left). (Photo provided by Town of Hampstead)

After 21 years of leading the Hampstead Police Department, Chief Ken Meekins is turning over his office to a new chief, Steve Gossage.

Gossage was sworn in during the March Hampstead Town Council meeting and begins March 27. He brings with him approximately 35 years of experience with the Baltimore County Police Department.


Gossage, who has lived in Carroll County for 24 years, said he looks forward to continuing his police work in a small community like Hampstead.

"I love living in Carroll County," Gossage said. "The small town atmosphere is what drew me up there."

While he spent 20 years on patrol in places like Essex, Towson and Woodlawn, he also has about 15 years of experience in support services. He leads a behavioral health unit, which has 12 officers, and the Baltimore County Police Department's crash team, which has 20 officers, he said.

Leading those small units has given him experience that he'll be able to use when leading Hampstead's Police Department, which is also small, he said.

Gossage said he wants to enhance community policing, something that police officers can do in a smaller community.

"The citizens have to trust the police, and the police have to trust the citizens," Gossage said.

Gossage said he's looking forward to meeting local business owners, the homeowner associations and the other officers in Hampstead. He plans on attending discussions to hear what the citizens want from the Police Department and working with residents and the homeowner associations, he said.

One thing Gossage wants Hampstead residents to know about him?

"I'm a family-oriented guy, and I do believe in a strong relationship between the police and the community," he said.

Community-based policing is something Meekins said is important to the position. The chief will need to be part of the community, and he will have a larger opportunity to do that. As chief, Gossage will have the chance to shop at the local businesses and dine with the community at local restaurants.

Meekins said community members will often come up and speak with him when they see him eating around Hampstead or at other community events.

"It's a lot different atmosphere than a big department," Meekins said.

Meekins was on an interview board, along with Manchester Police Chief John Hess and Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees, and interviewed nine candidates, including Gossage. That board narrowed it down to three, and the three candidates were then interviewed by the Town Council and town residents, Meekins said.

Hampstead Mayor Chris Nevin, who was also part of the process to pick a chief, said that Gossage was very proactive.


"He really put forth a lot of effort to show he wanted the job, and everyone I talked to seemed very impressed with his efforts," Nevin said.

Meekins plans to help Gossage with the transition, he said. According to a news release from the town, Meekins will stay on through April 30 to help Gossage in his new role.

Meekins said he will sit down with Gossage and talk about how the department currently functions and what Gossage wants to do in his new role.

Meekins will retire after 45 years in law enforcement, 21 of which have been as the Hampstead police chief. He said that's "a long time" to have been that role.

"I'm ready to step aside, and let someone else take the reigns and see what they accomplish," Meekins said.

His retirement plans aren't quite firm yet, but he said he and his wife might move to somewhere flatter where they can ride their bikes, possibly on the Eastern Shore.

Looking back on his time at the helm, he said he's proud of the accomplishments his staff has made. One of the areas was the way law enforcement in Hampstead, as well as other county law enforcement agencies, have tackled the heroin and opioid problems.

In Hampstead, they've worked to get those with substance abuse disorders into treatment, which gets them off the streets and helps lower the crime rate. Putting people into treatment has made a difference, he said.

"We've made a lot of strides in establishing a different perspective for law enforcement in Carroll County," he said.