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Veteran state police officer seeks answer on abrupt Garrett transfer

The Baltimore Sun

Lt. Dean Richardson has been with the Maryland State Police for 35 years, 28 of them at the Westminster barracks. He has been the station's commander since 2004.

He said yesterday that he can't understand why the state police abruptly informed him last week he would be transferred to the McHenry barracks in Garrett County - a two-hour-and-45-minute drive from his New Windsor area home.

"I can assure you that I had no idea that this was coming, and I was shocked when it did," Richardson said by phone while finishing paperwork in his Westminster office. "I just think after 35 years of loyal and dedicated service, I deserve an explanation."

Richardson, 55, said he will seek an answer from state police Superintendent Col. Thomas E. "Tim" Hutchins when he meets with him in Pikesville today.

Though he was told to start as McHenry's barracks commander this week, Richardson said he is taking the next few weeks off to consider his future. He said he might retire instead.

McHenry's former commander Lt. Rick Narron has been transferred to Hagerstown, police at the McHenry barracks said.

First Sgt. Ernest Leatherbury, who lives on the Eastern Shore, has been named acting commander of the Westminster barracks, state police there said.

Only 17 of the state police's 1,500 troopers have served for 30 years or more, said state police spokesman 1st Sgt. Russ Newell.

State police can start collecting their pension after 22 years of service. Yet Newell said when promotion and transfer lists come out, troopers routinely have to start crisscrossing the state, from the Eastern Shore to the western counties.

"We are a mobile department," Newell said. "We understand the change, the need for travel. We've all done it."

But Newell said he could not give a reason why Richardson was transferred.

Richardson's transfer comes as the Carroll County commissioners have emphasized their intent to dissolve the county's resident trooper program. State police from the Westminster barracks have served as Carroll's local law enforcement agency since 1974. Richardson became one of the county's first resident troopers that year.

Richardson worked with the resident troopers for 25 years, eventually becoming coordinator of the program. He also briefly commanded the state police's commercial vehicle enforcement division for the western region.

Under Richardson's watch, Carroll County has maintained one of the lowest crime rates in the state.

He said he can't identify a problem that might have caused his transfer.

"I don't know what it is, and I'd like to find out," he said. "Maybe I'll be given that explanation, and maybe I won't."

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