Laurel police created a management position intended to help improve communication with the community and oversee civilian staff members.
The city hired John Wagner, a retired Navy chief who served for more than 20 years, on Jan. 13 to fill the new role of service supervisor.
Laurel Police Chief Rich McLaughlin said the department’s civilian components have expanded over the past few years and needed the additional oversight.
“We’ve added a lot of additional services, [such as] fingerprinting five days a week,” he said. “I just thought it was time to put somebody in that was hands-on.”
As services supervisor, Wagner’s duties will include overseeing the approximate 24 civilian staff members that make up the communications, records and evidence departments, McLaughlin said. Dorcas Kiptepkut of Laurel said police are visible and active with the community, but said the city’s needs are changing as it expands.
She said she anticipates transportation becoming an issue as new developments like Towne Centre Laurel draw out-of-town visitors, but she remains optimistic about Laurel’s future.
“I don’t know what it’s going to be like,” she said. “But I’m looking forward to it.”
Some of Wagner’s tasks were previously performed by Jimmy Collins, Laurel police public information officer.
“I want to tidy everything up. I want to tie it all together,” McLaughlin said. “If there’s any room for growth, any room for improvement, its time to do that.”
Wagner, 40, who lives near Fort Meade, said he has experience running volunteer programs for the Navy and his management and community relations skills are the perfect combination for his new position.
“I’m a people person. I’ve had a lot of training with management,” he said. “The military trains you to lead from day one.”
Wagner, a father of three, said his oldest daughter works in Laurel and that he is looking forward to working near her.
Wagner said one of his main goals will be improving communication and interactions with the public.
“We are family here, and I want the community [members] to understand that we are family,” he said. “We want to help them as much as they need help.”
Jubril Afolemi moved to Laurel last month from Texas and said he is pleased with the police presence in the area.
“They’re way active. I see them almost everywhere,” he said. “You see them driving by, you see them parked in places just to make sure everybody’s safe.” firstname.lastname@example.org