Nearly a year in the waiting and after a seemingly exhaustive process, Mayor Michael O’Connor has selected and the Board of Aldermen confirmed a new police chief for the city of Frederick.
Jason Lando, a Pittsburgh native, comes to the Frederick Police Department with a strong background that couples the desired education and experience. He comes to a good police department without significant problems and a city with a promising future.
Fredrick is a unique city, ideally located, rich in a variety of resources, which is just waiting to emerge as one of the best cities in the country. The Frederick City Police Department is a good department with significant potential.
The new chief should understand and take advantage of the uniqueness of Frederick, the FPD and the opportunities that lie before the city and its police department, a potential that many other communities can only dream about.
I would suggest that the new chief strive to be be a “servant leader,” placing a premium on serving those within the department as well as the community the department protects and serves. To that end, his background providing training in procedural justice, de-escalation and implicit bias should serve him well here in Frederick.
Fairness, a cornerstone in procedural justice is a must in the internal administrative processes that will be vital to achieving fairness toward the community at large in the FPD’s day-to-day operations. Fairness and the perception of fairness is critical to reaching and maintaining the trust of FPD personnel as well as the community — the entire community — the department serves, a trust that is essential for long-term success.
Developing staff, building leaders throughout the department, is a must for the department to reach its full potential. This has been a shortcoming in the past evidenced by the national search for a new chief. Elements that should require a national search like internal strife, corruption, rampant violent crime, serious local racial tensions, etc. are not present in Frederick.
The new chief should build a strong bench of leaders, potential chiefs, developed from within that would negate the need for a costly, time-consuming national search for the next chief. Such a strong bench of competent leaders throughout the department enhances the quality of service to the community day in and day out. This should be a priority.
The new chief should be dedicated to the proposition that policing should be predicated on the spirit of service and not the spirit of adventure, building a department of guardians and not warriors consistent with the current demands being placed on policing.
Frederick’s police department does not stand alone, but it is an integral part of a mosaic that makes up the fabric of Frederick’s community. There must be an understanding of where policing fits into a broader picture of enhancing and preserving the quality of life in a community that is essential to reaching Frederick’s full potential. It is a collaborative effort with all community stakeholders having a role to play.
Frederick’s new chief has an opportunity to build on the work of those who preceded him, those who have left a solid foundation, and focus on moving the ball forward so to speak. Frederick has had a series of relatively good chiefs and acting chiefs in recent years, leading a department that is in good shape. It presents an opportunity for a good chief to contribute to what has been steady improvement over time.
Opportunity is knocking. It is up to the new chief and a supportive community to open the door and proceed, taking the city of Frederick and its police department to new heights.
Karl Bickel, formerly second in command of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and former assistant professor of criminal justice, is retired from the U.S. Department of Justice and writes from Monrovia. He can be reached at KarlBickel @comcast.net.