Kevin Grunwell, who served as captain under the late Chief Milton Frech Jr., has officially taken the helm as chief of the Brunswick Police Department.
With unanimous approval from the city council, Mayor Nathan Brown appointed Grunwell chief on Tuesday, according to a news release issued Thursday. Grunwell has been serving as acting chief since shortly after Frech's death. He oversees 14 officers.
"I think generally everybody loved Milt. So they're big shoes to fill, and I don't know that I can fill them, but I'm going to try my best," Grunwell said in an interview.
Frech died unexpectedly in his Emmitsburg home March 30 after working more than 30 years in law enforcement. He was 56. At Frech's funeral, Grunwell, in his eulogy, described Frech as a father figure to the younger officers in the department.
Chief Grunwell, 52, is a Frederick County native and alumnus of Gov. Thomas Johnson High School. He joined the Brunswick force as a captain in March. Though he'd only worked with Frech for three weeks at Brunswick, the two were friends long before then.
They worked together at the Frederick County Sheriff's Office (FCSO), starting around 2000. Grunwell, who retired from FCSO after 22 years of service, spent part of his time working alongside Frech in narcotics. After Grunwell left the sheriff's office, Frech recruited him to Brunswick.
During his time with FCSO, Grunwell served as lieutenant for 11 years, was special assignment commander for nine years in narcotics and SWAT and assistant patrol commander for nearly two years, overseeing various areas of police work, including patrol, traffic and K-9. He also held the position of support services commander.
Grunwell holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Maryland. He also graduated from the Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command and the Drug Enforcement Administration Drug Commander’s Academy.
“We are very pleased to have Kevin on board as our chief of Police," Mayor Brown said in a prepared statement. " ... we are honored that Kevin would want to continue the legacy that Milt began. Chief Grunwell’s credentials are quite impressive and the council is very confident in our choice to appoint him ... ”
Grunwell's goal is to concentrate on community policing and continue the work of his predecessor. The public should not expect any sweeping changes under him in the near future, he said.
To build upon community policing, Grunwell said the department is working on a community survey to get input from residents on how the police department can improve. He hopes the survey will be sent out in the next two weeks, but he was not sure exactly when. Grunwell feels one of the greatest challenges facing police is public perception, and he hopes he can show that the Brunswick police department is there for its community.
Grunwell acknowledged he's still getting to know people in Brunswick and invites residents to say hello when they see him or call the police station. He grew up in Clover Hill in Frederick and comes from a family of public servants. He is married with two children.
As the new chief settles in to lead the department, he will be reminded of the foundation former Chief Frech laid.
"When I look back on it, the conversations that we had, I know that he would want me to stay there ... and continue his tradition and the things that he set up," Grunwell said.