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'Continually Amazed': Howard County Police Chief Reflects

Chief William McMahon announced he's retiring in June.

Howard County Chief of Police William McMahon
Howard County Chief of Police William McMahon

Howard County Police Chief William McMahon will retire June 30 after eight years as head of the department, Howard County government announced Thursday.

"He has embraced change, taken the department in new directions and made us safer," County Executive Ken Ulman said, adding McMahon "made Howard County a better place."

McMahon—whose career spans 30 years in law enforcement—oversaw several countywide drops in crime since Ulman named him chief in 2006, according to a statement from the county:

  • 50 percent drop in auto theft
  • 35 percent drop in robberies
  • 35 percent drop in motor vehicle fatalities
  • 10 percent drop in burglaries

Increased enforcement of traffic laws, particularly with teenagers, has led to a significant drop in traffic deaths, the department reported.

Also on McMahon's watch, the neighborhood satellite office program and school resource officer programs have grown, technology improved service delivery, a memorial courtyard was created, the child advocacy center was enlarged, the 911 call center was renovated and the department opened the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center, the statement said.

During McMahon's tenure, the department grew by more than 70 positions despite economic conditions, according to the statement.

"The county executive and I shared a vision, and we have been able to execute a plan to make the police department more responsive to the challenges and changes we face," McMahon said. 

Most recently, McMahon responded to challenges after the shootings at The Mall in Columbia, where three people died on Jan. 25, and his leadership has been praised by the community and law enforcement nationwide, the statement said.

"That incident, and many others, showed that Howard County is truly unique in its collaborative efforts to resolve issues and improve the quality of life here," McMahon said. "I know that both professionally and personally, as I live in this great county with my wife of 30 years and my three children."

McMahon said his greatest challenges involved the safety of his officers, according to the statement. Particularly difficult was the death of Corporal Scott Wheeler in 2007, who was hit by a speeding car on Route 32, according to The Baltimore Sun. The incident involving Pfc. Steven Houk, who was seriously injured in October after being shot on Route 1, was also a difficult time for the agency, according to the statement.

Despite the challenges, "I have enjoyed every day of my career and have been blessed to work with such great co-workers and in such a supportive community," McMahon said. "I am continually amazed at the heroic and dangerous work our officers do every single day and the outstanding support they receive from our professional civilian staff and our dedicated volunteers....I am so grateful to them..."

The command change was expected to happen sometime this year, according to Ulman, who said it would allow for a smooth transition before the change in administration this November; Ulman is term-limited and cannot seek reelection as county executive.

Related: Howard County Executive Announces New Police Chief

MG42 April 18, 2014 at 07:41 AM
The Halloween shooting back in 2009, a seemingly slam dunk case, remains unsolved. Also, several botched SWAT raids leaving 3 family dogs dead were on his watch. Good riddance, loser.
Jason Keyes April 18, 2014 at 06:12 PM
After he lied about their having DUI quotas, I've had no trust in McMahon. Even after their quotas were outed in a public court, he was denying it.

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