In the weeks after former city Police Chief Kim Dine announced he was stepping down, an array of groups — including the Frederick Center and the African American Resources, Cultural Heritage Society of Frederick County, to name a few — reached out to honor him before he left.
“It is incredibly humbling — absolutely incredibly humbling,” Dine said. “I certainly appreciate it. ... Hopefully, it speaks to our outreach efforts that we worked hard on and one of the things the police department continues to work hard on is serving all the people. We have the strong belief in that — that police are to serve the entire community and can be a true force for bringing people together.”
Dine was also honored by members of the Frederick community at a ceremony at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center on Dec. 5, during which members of the police department and city officials presented him with retirement gifts.
Dine headed the Frederick Police Department from 2002 until Dec. 5, after announcing on Nov. 14 that he was leaving the department to become chief of the U.S. Capitol Police. He begins work at his new position on Dec. 17.
Capt. Thomas Ledwell has been named acting chief of the Frederick Police Department.
Ledwell, 44, who was appointed to the rank of captain in July, has spent about 20 years as an officer with the city, the last 13 of which as a member of the command staff.
The Frederick Center, a resource center that aims to serve the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community in Frederick, named Dine the LGBTQ Ally of the Year for 2012 — the first year the group has awarded the honor.
Brian Walker, board chairman for the group, said the award was given to Dine for his continued outreach to the group, including bringing group members into police academy training to talk to officers about issues related to the LGBTQ community.
“It was a two-hour seminar on awareness and sensitivity of the LGBTQ community,” Walker said. “What LGBTQ is, what some issues our community faces ... and basically sensitivity on how to address people. We spent a lot of time on transgender — what to ask and what to not be afraid to ask and terminology.”
Walker said Dine first met group members at the organization’s initial meeting when he stopped by unannounced after seeing a sign for the gathering. Dine continued to keep in touch with the group and its members thereafter.
Dine said the department has made efforts to reach out to groups with which police historically have not built relationships, such as the deaf, gay and African-American communities — groups Dine said have had issues with the police nationwide for decades.
“Perhaps it’s some evidence that we did build a lot of bridges and work through trust and communication issues,” Dine said. “We want people to see the Frederick Police Department as their friend. Obviously, we want the knuckleheads to see us as someone who will lock them up, but it’s important for all aspects of the community to see us as friends.”
It’s not just community groups who showered praise on Dine. Several elected officials have made a point of publicly thanking him for his service to the city.
C. Paul Smith (R), vice president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, and a former Frederick city alderman from 2005 to 2009, said it was an honor for both Dine and the city for the chief to be taking such a prestigious position in Washington, D.C.
“We have the unusual blessing in Frederick County to have a couple of good law-enforcement people who are recognized with two different philosophies,” Smith said, referring to Dine and county Sheriff Chuck Jenkins (R), who is known for his efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants charged with crimes. “Kim Dine is one of them — he’s been recognized nationally.”
Smith praised Dine’s community presence, and ability to forge relationships with groups around the city.
“He’s a very good communicator and is very visible,” he said. “He attends a lot of events, he’s around, and he likes the concept of community policing through developing relationships so the community is on your side.”
State Sen. Ron Young (D-Dist. 3) last week gave Dine a commendation from the Maryland General Assembly for his 10 years of service, praising his outreach to the city’s various constituencies.
“He gave the city 10 good years,” Young said. “He was excellent at working with the communities, going around to the [neighborhood advisory councils], meeting downtown merchants. He was very well-liked and [provided] some of the best public outreach we've had in years.”
Mayor Randy McClement (R), who’s worked with Dine for the three years of his administration, and longer as former owner of Marketplace Bagel and Deli, said the former chief’s visibility in the community, attending events and meetings, would be the hardest thing to replace.
“Do I expect anybody to be exactly like the chief in terms of public exposure? No,” McClement said. “That’s an unfair thing to place on anybody, no matter how good you are. As far as community policing, part of that is community visibility and community participation. ... The chief was the face, and everybody has to get used to a new face.”
McClement said Ledwell will continue as Dine’s visible presence in the community, offering the same kind of regular outreach.
“I think the chief set a very high bar from a visibility aspect,” McClement said. “He did a great job of building community bridges and getting the community to participate. I think that’s the right thing, and Tom’s going to continue to do that.”
Ledwell has been named interim chief, which was approved by the Frederick Board of Aldermen, allowing him to continue in the job indefinitely while a search for a new chief takes place.
Dine said he plans to continue living in Frederick while working at his new job.
In the days since turning in his badge, Dine said he’s filled his time with meetings for his new job, including attending a recruit graduation ceremony. He has also been by the city police station at least twice for some last-minute things.
“They said: ‘We can’t get rid of you,’” Dine joked.
Dine said he’ll continue to have relationships with the people he has met in his decade serving the city.
“I’m part of a community, they’re part of a community — the intensity and strength of these relationships has really astounded me, and some of these events have really brought that home,” he said.