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Baltimore County to launch 'transparent' police chief search, with public hearings and town hall meetings

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced Wednesday that he will hold public hearings and town hall meetings with police officers as part of his search for a new police chief.

Olszewski also said he’ll form an eight-member advisory panel to interview finalists for the chief position. The panel will include representatives from the county executive’s office, the state’s attorney, the Baltimore County Council and a victim services group, as well as three county residents.

Olszewski touted his plans as “transparent” and “inclusive.” He is not hiring an outside firm to help with the search.

Olszewski, a Democrat who was elected in November, re-appointed police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan to lead the department, with the understanding that Sheridan would retire after about six months. Sheridan’s re-appointment was confirmed by Baltimore County Council members on Monday.

“Chief Sheridan has set the bar high for his successor, and we are confident that our thorough search process will identify a chief who possesses the qualities our communities want to see in the next leader of Baltimore County’s law enforcement efforts,” Olszewski said in a statement.

The job description has been posted online, with an application deadline of Jan. 15.

Olszewski said he’ll announce two public hearings to collect input from residents in February. Residents also can submit comments to policechiefsearch@baltimorecountymd.gov.

In addition to the town hall meetings for police officers, Olszewski said he will consult with police organizations that represent black officers and female police officers, as well as the Fraternal Order Police Lodge 4.

Olszewski said he hopes to have a new chief on the job by May or June.

Baltimore County’s national search comes as Baltimore City is finishing up its own process for hiring a new police commissioner — one that many have criticized for lacking transparency. Mayor Catherine Pugh has nominated Fort Worth, Texas, police chief Joel Fitzgerald for the job. He still needs to be confirmed by City Council, members of which have expressed concern about the lack of information they’ve been provided about Fitzgerald’s background. For example, two city councilmen said last week that Fitzgerald’s background report that they received was “heavily redacted.”

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

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