The City of Bowie is searching for a new police chief after Kathy Perez, the city’s first and only chief, resigned to take a position as assistant chief of the Federal Reserve Board Police in Washington, D.C.

“She set the tone of creating a very professional organization, putting in place the appropriate building blocks to make sure we didn’t grow too quickly,” said Bowie City Manager David Deutsch.  “She understood and acknowledged the need to do things right and to make sure that we hired good people.”

As it did when it hired Perez, the city is contracting a firm to help it find a new chief to handle the $6 million department. “We’re going to use the same people we used when we found Chief Perez in 2006, the Mercer group out of Atlanta,” Deutsch said.  “That process we found to be very helpful because the executive recruiters know a lot of people in the business and they’re able to reach out to a lot of people and get us a good applicant pool.

“We’ll also advertise the position locally and nationally in various professional journals and newspapers so that we can attract as wide an applicant pool as possible,” he continued.

Perez was tasked with getting the burgeoning police department on track and she did that with flying colors, according to Deutsch.  When the police force initially hit the streets in early 2007, the department only had six officers. Now, manned by 48 officers, Bowie has its own department, which not only handles traffic issues, but also does community outreach and includes an investigative unit.

The department’s creation came from the city’s desire to have a larger police presence in the city.  Deutsch said the Prince George’s County Police was doing a good job, but its resources were thinly spread in the district in which Bowie lies.  That district, District II, is 134 square miles and is home to 172,000 people, making it the second most populated and second largest geographical location in the county. It also houses communities in Greenbelt, Glenarden and Largo, which often need more police presence than neighborhoods in Bowie. The city, with an estimated population of roughly 50,000, thought it needed extra help in securing its roadways and neighborhoods. So the city’s council gave the go-ahead to create a department – a project that proved difficult.

“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 said.  “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.”

Three years after the first officers hit the street, officials believe the department is heading in the right direction.  The incremental process is ongoing, but Deutsch hopes to continue the progress once the new chief is installed, which he hopes will happen by the first quarter of 2011.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO