Police Chief Manger Announces Retirement
April departure will allow chief to take part in finding successor
Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger announced his retirement on Wednesday after 15 years leading one of the nation’s largest police departments.
Manger will step down in April, ending the second-longest tenure in the 97-year history of the Montgomery County Police Department.
“I’m leaving here thinking we’ve accomplished a lot of good things in Montgomery County and confident that that good work will continue long after I’m gone, ” Manger said in an interview.
Manger has been on the national stage as president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association where he has testified before Congress on the need for major gun-control reforms, immigration policies and has worked to build better police relationships with Montgomery County’s immigrant communities.
Manger’s next step will be an expanded role in the association, choosing to leave his post as chief after a representative retiring from the organization reached out to offer his own position. He hopes to still work with many of his Montgomery County colleagues.
“This is the kind of opportunity where I can stay engaged with the profession, continue to influence my profession in the right direction on a national level,” Manger said. “It just really is a perfect fit in terms of what I want to do next.”
He has declined to take part in a federal program that flags the names of foreign-born suspects held on violent crime charges, saying the program “undermines the trust and cooperation of immigrant communities.”
At a 2017 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on federal gun-tracing systems, Manger called for a “bipartisan and comprehensive dialogue to strengthen legislation to curb gun violence.”
Last year, after a community forum following deadly school shootings in Florida and Southern Maryland, Manger said calls to allow teachers to carry guns were “the dumbest idea I’ve heard in my 40 years of being a police officer.”
The chief also has pushed for tougher laws to combat drunken driving, including Noah’s Law, named for a county officer who was killed in a Rockville crash involving an intoxicated driver. Manger said he has mostly positive memories during his 42 years of service, but those tragedies will stay with him.
“There’s also been a lot of tragic cases that I’ve been associated with and been a part of,” Manger said. “You look back at the impact it’s had on families and individuals. The officers that have been killed in the line of duty during my time as chief are things that will never leave me.”
The retirement announcement comes less than two months after a new county executive was sworn in, and Manger, 64, is expected to be involved in finding his successor to lead the 1,200-member force, the county’s primary law-enforcement agency.
Manger said he had intended to step down after former County Executive Isiah Leggett left office, no matter who succeeded him. But after speaking with Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich about continuity during the transition process, he decided to stay on as chief.
Manger began his career in Ocean City in 1976. He served six years as chief of police in Fairfax County, Virginia before taking the same position in Montgomery County.
Manger’s announcement was made on the anniversary of his 2004 swearing-in.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said he would work closely with Manger to select his replacement. There will be a national search, with a vetted candidate to be submitted for review by the County Council.
Elrich is looking for “somebody well-qualified to do the job. That’s the top priority,” county spokesman Ohene Gyapong said.
Elrich wants a candidate with many of the same characteristics as their predecessor.
“He’s fond of his commitment to transparency and accountability,” Gyapong said. “Leading with compassion and understanding the diverse culture of the county.”
Officers continuing to familiarize themselves with their communities in order to best represent them will be a primary goal of the department moving forward, Gyapong said.