The city of Bowie ended its four-month-long search for a new police chief when it took the interim tag off John Nesky’s title.

Nesky, a 20-year veteran of law enforcement and the city’s first deputy police chief, is eager to start on some of the initiatives that he sees as beneficial to the department’s future.

“It was nice to have the confidence of the city manager, council and the mayor,” Nesky said. “It allows me to start thinking a little more long term than being just a placeholder.”

Nesky says he’s listening to the community’s concerns right now and hopes to implement initiatives and changes that will please the city’s residents. Right now, he says, traffic safety is the largest concern of residents, but that can change at any time.

“The needs will change,” he said. “You look at other things that may be happening be it truancy, graffiti or vandalism. You have to be flexible enough to change your priorities based upon the trends and what’s happening in an area.”

The opening was created in November when former Chief Kathy Perez resigned to take a position as assistant chief to the Federal Reserve Board. It launched a search that yielded 130 applicants.

Bowie City Manager David Deutsch said of those 130 candidates, Nesky was head and shoulders above everyone else.

“After evaluating all of the candidates, it was clear that Acting Chief Nesky had the best combination of skills and experience to lead this department into the future,” Deutsch said in a statement. “He is an excellent leader, he is an innovator, and he has already established strong ties with the Bowie community. I am very pleased that he will be the one to implement City Council’s long-term vision for the Bowie Police Department.”

The Bowie Police Department now employs 52 officers, according to Nesky. It’s one of the larger police departments in the county, as it has to police a town of roughly 50,000 people. It’s unique for the region and was not an easy creation.

“It was quite an undertaking, because before we started, we looked across the country and couldn’t find any city approximately our population that had done this,” Deutsch told the AFRO. “A number of cities, especially out in California, contract with the county sheriff’s office for full coverage, but that’s a different model. A number of small towns have created police departments but nothing on the scale of what we’re doing.”

In light of that and the fact that the town is still growing, Nesky says that the town must continue to morph and change the way it polices. Just like the rest of the county, Bowie’s police department must do more with less.

“Sometimes is a matter of shifting priorities and using technology as a force multiplier,” Nesky said. “Our speed cameras are a very good example of that.

“Instead of having an officer posted in front of schools during school hours, we can utilize technology and allow our traffic officers to be someplace else and enforcing speeds in other areas,” he continued.

Nesky says the department is hoping to add five more officers. He is currently waiting on the City Council to send down its budget.

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO