The retirement of Col. Steven Bodway last month left Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler with a difficult decision — who should replace him.
He thought about going outside the agency, but ultimately decided to promote from within and announced Monday that Maj. William Davis would become the new colonel, effective Saturday. Davis’ position is being filled by Capt. Donald Gividen Jr., whose promotion is also effective Saturday.
In December, then-Capt. Daniel Galbraith was promoted to the new third major’s position, part of a reorganization as Gahler began his second term as sheriff.
“I have complete confidence he is the right pick to fill [Col. Bodway’s] void and step into those shoes and move the entire agency forward,” Gahler said Tuesday.
His decision came almost two months after Bodway’s retirement became official and in that time Gahler met with his command staff and members of the deputies union and the corrections officers union for their input.
They said that if the position is filled from outside the Sheriff’s Office, there’s no promotion through the chain of command.
“I’ve been here four years,” Gahler said. “If I don’t have the trust in the people I’ve had in command positions to move up into the next rank, I’m doing something wrong.”
Davis, who has been Gahler’s major since Gahler took office in 2014, previously served with the Baltimore City Police Department for 26 years.
“Coming to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, I learned a lot about the office. It has a long, rich history,” said Davis, 52, who lives in Stewartstown, Pa. “I’m honored by confidence of the sheriff to be able to have an even bigger role in this office that has had a great history and success, and be able to be part of its success going forward.
“The community here in Harford County loves its law enforcement, loves its police, you see that every single day. To be given the opportunity to serve them in an even bigger role is just an honor.”
With Davis’ promotion came a reassignment of the roles of the three majors on the sheriff’s command staff.
Galbraith was promoted to major following Gahler’s meetings with members of his command staff around the end of his first term.
Gahler created a third major’s position, separating the investigative services from the rest of police operations, all of which were overseen by Davis.
Maj. John Simpson, who oversaw the services and support bureau, became major of police investigations, while Davis retained oversight of police operations. The third position, oversight of services and support, was assumed by Galbraith.
Supervising services and support is a logical transition for Galbraith, 53, who has spent the last eight years in administrative services, where he supervised most of the agency’s civilian employees, and it’s become near and dear to him.
“As a law enforcement deputy out there, you get rewards. You go out there and you help somebody, that’s rewarding,” Galbraith said. “We have civilians who work 24/7 also, who support the deputies who are out there. I’ve really taken as my mission to motivate them, to make sure they’re recognized, to make sure they feel appreciated.
“For the last eight years that’s been my role, and I really enjoy doing it.”
He works closely with the Harford County government administration, especially on large projects, including the ongoing, $3.4 million renovation of the Sheriff’s Office headquarters at 45 S. Main St. in Bel Air, which is on time and on budget, he said.
After serving in the Army, Galbraith graduated from the Sheriff’s Office training academy in 1987 and served two years with Havre de Grace Police Department before moving to the Sheriff’s Office in 1989.
He developed his appreciation for the Sheriff’s Office while he was in the academy, where he worked alongside deputies and instructors.
Gividen has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 1997, rising through the ranks to captain in 2014. He’s been a K9 officer, a traffic unit supervisor, drill instructor and commander of patrol operations overseeing the Northern and Southern Precincts.
In his new role, he will be chief of the police operations bureau, which includes both precincts, special operations and community policing and school policing, two aspects new to Gividen.
“I’m honored the sheriff has the trust in me to give me this added responsibility,” said Gividen, 42. “It’s something I’m looking forward to and something challenging and a new venture.”
Gahler still has to fill the positions opening as a result of the promotions; anyone interested must submit a resume and letter of interest by next week.
“I feel as confident as I was when I came in here day one with a great group of commanders. I feel that way today and a year from now, the talent pool is deep that if I had to, I could replace any of them if and when needed,” Gahler said. “These gentlemen are best suited to follow the direction I’ve set for the agency and to continue to fulfill our mission of reducing crime, chasing down drug dealers, to continue everything we’ve done in the first four years at that pace and do a better of it.”