Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo entered his Feb. 13 meeting with then-Westminster Chief of Police Jeff Spaulding thinking it’d be their last one.
Spaulding, a 46-year law enforcement veteran, was slated to retire March 1, and he did. But during that meeting DeLeonardo sensed Spaulding still yearned to serve the people of Carroll County — just not in the 24/7, 365-day role demanded of him heading a police department.
Spaulding’s retirement, as it turns out, will be short.
He finished his tenure as chief Thursday and will be starting a new position with the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office less than a month from now.
Having spent more than 30 years with the Howard County Police Department, and 15 as chief in Westminster, Spaulding will begin his post as the law enforcement and community liaison for DeLeonardo’s office March 21, Spaulding told the Times.
“Bringing someone like Jeff in, who’s so well respected by not only all the chiefs in Carroll County but really statewide, it really is going to be an incredible resource I think we’ll all be able to tap into,” DeLeonardo said.
Spaulding said he’ll be the point man in addressing any issues that come up with cases being prosecuted by DeLeonardo’s office — regardless of whether the concern is from law enforcement or the prosecutors. He added that the job description is still being developed, so his role is not yet concrete.
“His experience, not only as an investigator and officer in narcotics, but also at executive level law enforcement, really will help us coordinate with other law enforcement, which really we need to for effective investigations,” DeLeonardo said.
DeLeonardo said Spaulding could spearhead everything from his office’s efforts to communicate better with officers about whether they’re needed in court to establishing procedures for officer-involved shootings in the county “so we all know what our role is.”
“I would also expect that I may be involved with doing some training when maybe there are some new laws that need to be explained,” Spaulding said. “I might be communicating that information to the chiefs” or creating a training model they can implement themselves.
Spaulding said he looks forward to continuing collaboration with the police chiefs he’s worked closely with the past 15 years and to remain a catalyst for change in the county, he said, pointing to his championing crisis intervention response.
The state’s attorney said the former police chief will be able to continue his work with the Special Olympics, a cause he’s fervently supported throughout his law enforcement career.
Spaulding, DeLeonardo added, will be critical to the ongoing development of the Maryland Criminal Information Network — established under the committee Gov. Larry Hogan created to combat gang crime. DeLeonardo chairs the gang council and his office has been provided pioneering software from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program designed to enable law enforcement to process data that reveals criminal operations.
“(Spaulding’s experience) is really going to help us in terms of what’s going to harness this information, what’s the best way for police to make use of it, what’re the challenges and concerns they’re going to have and how can we address them,” DeLeonardo said.
The former chief’s reputation in Carroll County and beyond, DeLeonardo said, will be critical in securing other law enforcement agencies’ full cooperation in the crime information network, but also in making sure Carroll’s municipal police forces continue their strong relationship with county prosecutors.
Spaulding added: “I’m hoping I can be a resource for both the State’s Attorney’s Office and (police) chiefs around the county.”
The transition from police work to Spaulding’s new role, the two agreed, won’t be without hiccups.
“The hardest part about bringing him in is figuring out what I’m supposed to call him now,” DeLeonardo said. “I think I’m still going to be calling him ‘Chief.’ ”