FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — After more than 30 years, Frederick’s top cop is hanging up his uniform for good.
“Growing up as a little kid, even back into elementary school, I knew I was going to be either a police officer or a firefighter,” explained Chief Ed Hargis with the Frederick Police Department.
And since high school, Hargis has been in a uniform.
He began his career as a combat medic for the National Guard before becoming a dispatcher for the Cherry Hill Police Department in New Jersey.
In 1986 became an officer for the Camden Police Department and climbed the ranks to become chief.
But in 2009, Hargis moved to Virginia to become chief of police in Portsmouth. He filled that position until applying for an open call to lead the Frederick Police Department in 2015.
“I had the opportunity to sit down and do one-on-one interviews with everybody in the agency in my first two months here. I got to know them; this is more of a family-type agency,” Hargis described.
One of his main goals as chief of the Frederick Police force was to strengthen outreach between officers and the community.
Hargis says he started the Chief’s Forum, a quarterly meeting with community leaders, to help explain police polices and hear from residents.
“You have to know what the community wants, what their expectations are to the law enforcement agencies,” Hargis explained, “When people are you a question or want something explained, being able to explain them and they actually have the belief that they’re being told the truth and see what they’re hearing.”
Over the last four and half years as chief, Hargis highlights equipment upgrades for his officers like portable radios, updating department computers, and acquiring new SUV’s
“Your goal coming in is to make the place better than when you walked in the door,” said Hargis, “I think I’ve accomplished that.”
And after a 38-year career in law enforcement, Hargis announced he’s leaving the uniform behind and heading into retirement.
“Right now it feels like I’m ready to move on and do something different,” he said.
He plans to finish writing a book based on the decision-making moments he’s garnered over his long career and how that can help others make tough choices in their own lives.
Hargis says his decision to retire was also based on personal reasons. He looks forward to spending time with his family.
Captain Patrick Grossman will become the interim chief as a national search for a permanent candidate gets underway by the City of Frederick.
“It’s going to be a broad search, a national search to find the next chief of police. It’s important to me that the community be involved in that process,” explained Mayor Michael O’Connor.
“I do know that once I leave somebody else will be chief of police here and take it farther than I did, so that’s always a good thing,” Hargis noted.
Chief Ed Hargis will officially leave the department at the end of February.