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Mount Airy approves new police chief

Mount Airy will begin to build its police force after the town council Monday night approved the appointment of Douglas Reitz as the new police chief.

The council voted unanimously to approve Reitz's appointment. He will officially become the new police chief after a background check is completed and he moves to the area, as part of the residency contingency required by Mayor Pat Rockinberg.

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"This is a historic moment for the town," Rockinberg said. "We're very excited to form our own police department."

Reitz was selected from more than 50 applicants by a committee that included Rockinberg, Mount Airy staff members, Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees and Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.

Reitz said he is honored to be named the new police chief and is ready to hit the ground running.

'I'm very humbled," he said. "I know there was a lot to consider. I know there was a lot of fine applicants."

Rockinberg recommended Reitz to the council in the beginning of June. Council members asked to delay the vote until Monday to have enough time to discuss the decision and meet the candidate.

Reitz is currently leading the North Middleton Township police force in Pennsylvania. He has 26 years of experience with Maryland State Police, according to previous reporting by the Carroll County Times.

Council president Peter Helt said before the meeting the group that selected Reitz worked hard to find the right person to serve as chief of police. He went into the meeting planning to support Reitz.

"It was a very thorough process and a good process," Helt said. "They're all confident that he's the right guy."

The Police Chief Review Committee reviewed each of the applications for the position and narrowed it down to seven candidates, who were interviewed by the group.

DeWees, who sat on the committee, said Reitz stood out due to his experience with Maryland State Police and for leading the police force in North Middleton Township. DeWees worked with Reitz while they were both troopers.

"He's got a diverse background," DeWees said.

Reitz's appointment as the new chief is the first step in creating a municipal police force in Mount Airy. The town is currently policed by state police troopers who patrol and respond to calls in the town as part of the Resident Trooper Program.

The Resident Trooper Program's cost steadily rose over the years, from $702,000 in 2012 to $900,998 in 2015, according to a November report from the Police Coverage Committee. That caused the council to consider the creation of a municipal police force.

The council voted for the creation of the police force in February.

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The new Mount Airy police force is in a unique position, as the town limits span Carroll and Frederick counties. For the most part, criminal laws do not change from county to county, but which court handles a person's case is dependent on where the crime occurred.

When Reitz officially begins his role as the newest police chief in the county, he will begin working to build his force, including hiring new officers and buying the necessary equipment.

"The big part right now is starting the groundwork and laying the foundation, so to speak," Reitz said.

Rockinberg said there will still be troopers and deputies from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and Frederick County Sheriff's Office.

The objective of the new force is to provide coverage for the town 24 hours a day, seven days a week, DeWees said.

"It was an all together better option for the town to install its own police force," he said.

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