The selection of a new Chief of Police in Hagerstown was made official on Tuesday, as former D.C. police officer Victor Brito was sworn in at the City Council chambers.
With bagpipes blaring and a full-house crowd, the city ushered in the new leader of its police force. Brito is a 25-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., and retired in 2014 as a captain. He was chosen last month after a national search to fill the role.
“This is it – this is the job for me,” Brito said. “The excitement is true, it’s real. I’m here to work, and I’m here to do the best I can.”
Since September and the departure of former chief Mark Holtzman, Captain Paul Kifer has served as the department’s acting chief. A lifelong native of the city, he was one of the final choices to fill the spot – but city officials decided to go in a different direction.
“It’s just a privilege that I made it as far as I did in the process,” Kifer said. “The support that I’ve had through the community, and the men and women in this department, was very humbling.”
“It’s not anything Captain Kifer lacked – it’s the value added to the department with Victor’s experiences,” said Valerie Means, the Hagerstown city administrator. “He’s dealt with drug issues, homelessness, mental health issues and domestic violence – those things that we need that strength on.”
Brito calls policing a “team sport,” one that survives on communication, and being visible and engaged with the public.
“It’s all about building teams, building relationships and collaboration,” Brito added. “That’s in my heart and soul – that’s in my DNA.”
Kifer, meanwhile, said he mirrors the new chief on “policing philosophy,” and is excited to keep serving his hometown.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Kifer said. “This is my community – I love this department, and I have no plans of going anywhere anytime soon.”
“This is a great police department,” Brito added. “I am proud to be a part of it, and I’m looking forward to writing the next chapter.”
The national search for the new Hagerstown police chief cost the city about $35,000, and drew in 60 applicants for the position.