After almost two months as Frederick’s acting police chief, Thomas Ledwell is now just the police chief.
On Jan. 17, Mayor Randy McClement (R) announced at a public hearing before the Frederick Board of Aldermen that the board had voted in closed session to make Ledwell the city’s newest top cop.
“Thank you so much for all that you do,” McClement said to Ledwell, who was in attendance. “We appreciate you’re willing to take this position. You’ve done an excellent job in your role as acting chief and as captain, and we know you’re going to continue that.”
McClement said in an interview that the idea of promoting from within was something he always followed in business.
Ledwell’s work in the department, such as his dedication to intelligence-led and community policing for the last two decades, as well as his two months as acting chief, played a role in the hiring, he said.
“Some of the initiatives he helped put into place are the right direction the police department should be taking,” McClement said. “Tom has a fair and balanced way of looking at things. He’s very deliberate about how he approaches situations. We understand that community policing should be a part of how our officers work on a day-to-day basis.”
Ledwell, 44, of Lewistown, 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.
He earned about $124,000 as acting chief, but a new salary hasn’t been determined, according to Kathryn Nicolato, the manager of city human resources. His predecessor received the same salary.
He replaces popular former Police Chief Kim Dine, who headed the Frederick department from 2002 through December of last year. Dine is now chief of the U.S. Capitol Police.
Ledwell said in an interview that he was excited to take on the post, and he wanted to continue the success of the department.
“We have an excellent department in place,” he said. “I want to keep us headed in the right direction. There’s a number of things the department’s been working on — we’ve stuck with the three pillars of data-driven policing, problem solving within the department and moving forward with community policing.”
Major crime, including assault and murder, is the lowest it has been in the city since 1991, despite a burgeoning population, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Since 2002, Frederick’s population has grown not only in number but diversity. The city’s Hispanic population surged 287 percent, while the number of residents overall jumped from 52,000 to 62,000.
Ledwell said he wanted to continue the department’s efforts to reach out to the city’s various communities and work for long-term solutions to crime issues.
“We want to continue our relationships,” he said. “We’ve got our systems for communicating. ... I want to aggressively address crime issues through problem solving and not band aid the problem.”
He credited Dine and other supervisors he has worked with for guiding him over the two decades he has worked in the city.
“I’ve had a number of excellent supervisors I’ve worked for, and from each one of them, I’ve learned good things,” he said. “I also feel like I have a good feel for men and women of the agency, and can guide them forward on our mission and to accomplish our goals.”
The five aldermen each thanked Ledwell for his work as acting chief and congratulated him on his new position.
Alderman Kelly Russell (D) — a former member of the police department who served for 22 years before retiring in 2005 — joked that she would have to call Ledwell “the new chief” for a while.
But Russell said she’d known him for a long time and was excited to see the department under his leadership.
“It’s wonderful to see a promotion from within,” she said. “... It is a testament to the previous leadership to nurture the folks that were there to take on the leadership role, and I know you’re going to be superior in this role. I’m really looking forward to spending a long time working with you.”
Dine said he was happy to see the city hiring from within the department, and that he thinks Ledwell is a good choice for chief.
“I am certain he will do an outstanding job,” Dine said. “He without question has the skills, ability and temperament to do a wonderful job.”