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Gregory Der will be Howard County, Maryland’s next police chief beginning Jan. 1, County Executive Calvin Ball announced Monday morning.
Ball revealed his selection to lead the county police during a news conference in Ellicott City.
Der, who retired from the department in 2017, is a 19-year veteran of the force who held a number of roles, including school resource officer, hostage negotiator, property crimes detective and fire and explosives investigator.
During Der’s time with the department, he received a number of honors, including five Unit Citations, two Certificates of Appreciation, 11 Commendation Certificates and an Investigative Award.
More recently, Der worked as as chief deputy for the Maryland State Fire Marshal, “where he has demonstrated effective collaboration among first responders and public safety personnel to investigate fires and coordinate statewide fire prevention,” Ball said.
Der said he would work to earn the trust of officers and the public.
“Words are meaningless without corresponding actions,” he said. “Together we will strive to keep our county one of the safest communities in the nation. I look forward to serving each of you.”
Der is a lifelong resident of the county and graduated from a county high school, Mt. Hebron High School, in 1989. He’s the county’s first police chief of Asian-American descent.
“He truly understands that our diversity, our inclusivity and our commitment to building strong bonds with every part of our community are all important values that will help improve the quality of life for all,” Ball said.
Der said the department is “in the cutting edge of law enforcement” and listed examples including the navigation of public health emergencies and the push for energy-efficient police vehicles.
“Howard County has many positive traits,” Der said. “But perhaps one of the most unique and important of these qualities is the strong bond that has been forged between our officers and the citizens we serve. It’s my intention to prioritize these positive relationships as well as build them out to all segments of our community.”
Der will succeed Chief Lisa Myers, who was appointed February 2019 after a brief retirement. Her career at the department spanned more than three decades.
Myers — the first African American and first woman to serve as Howard County’s chief of police — was supposed to retire Tuesday but delayed her retirement until Dec. 31 to help the transition between chiefs.
“Her commitment to community policing and efforts to bring more transparency to our police force has reinforced our department’s reputation as one of the best in the nation,” Ball said.
Ball said the county has seen “a decrease in crime across many categories, including robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and auto theft” since 2017.
Myers said the decrease is the result of a combination of spending resources on officer training, building relationships with the community and investing in technology.
As far as what’s next for Myers: “I’m going to try my hand at doing absolutely nothing,” she said.
“We will certainly miss her and her leadership but wish Chief the best in her retirement,” Ball said.