Charles Moore sworn in as Bel Air's new police chief

Bel Air's new police chief will be Charles Moore, former Detention Center warden

A lifelong Harford County resident and former Maryland State Police captain will oversee Bel Air's police force.

The Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners appointed Charles A. Moore as the town's new police chief Monday night.

It marked the closure of nearly a year of leadership uncertainty for the Bel Air Police Department, after longtime Chief Leo Matrangola went on medical leave last October and ultimately succumbed to cancer in July.

Moore, 48, a Jarrettsville resident, "was the top candidate recommended for the job," according to a news release from the town. He was chosen by a two-panel committee and will take the reins from deputy chief Richard Peschek, who has been acting police chief since July. From last October until July, Jack Meckley, a captain with the Harford County Sheriff's Office, served as interim chief.

"This is a historic night in the town of Bel Air," Mayor Robert Reier said to a room filled with police officers, Moore's family and well-wishers.

The commissioners voted 4-0 to hire Moore. Commissioner Patrick Richards was absent.

The weight of Matrangola's 24-year tenure as chief seemed to hang heavy over Moore's new position.

"You are stepping into the shoes of a man who put this – I'm sure most will agree with me – put together a top, first-class department," Reier told Moore, adding that Matrangola's contributions "will never be forgotten."

"You are charged with a significant responsibility," Reier added.

Moore will earn a salary of $95,064 and will oversee a department of 45 employees and a budget of $3.4 million, Director of Administration Michael Krantz said.

Town Administrator Jesse Bane was unable to attend the meeting because of a pre-arranged trip, Krantz said.

Krantz read a statement on Bane's behalf, explaining that two panels of residents, commissioners and department leaders helped select Moore, while Bane remained an observer to stay impartial.

Moore called the process "very thorough" and "objective," and explained he likes "to tear things apart" to analyze them, which he looks forward to doing further with Bel Air's police.

"One of the things I really did see was the great bond the community, the merchants, everybody here has with the police department," Moore said.

"It's going to be some big shoes to fill," Moore said about Matrangola, calling the former chief "a great friend" with whom he worked side by side.

Living up to Matrangola's achievements "is going to be a major goal of mine," he said, also thanking Peschek. "You ought to be proud of this department."

Moore graduated from North Harford High School and, most recently, served as warden of the Harford County Detention Center, where he was hired in June 2014 by Bane, who was the county sheriff until last November. Moore voluntarily separated from the Harford County Sheriff's Office last Nov. 11, according to spokesperson Cristie Kahler, about three weeks before current Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler took office.

Moore graduated from the Maryland State Police Academy in 1988 and has a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University in leadership and management.

He retired from the Maryland State Police's police communications support division as captain and executive officer in July 2014, according to the news release.

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