News 4 days ago

Police captain ending career to join health system

Cumberland Times-News — Jeffrey Alderton Cumberland Times-News, Md.

March 19--CUMBERLAND -- After 23 years of service with the Cumberland Police Department and the last seven as second in command, Capt. Greg Leake is ending his police career to become the Western Maryland Health System's director of safety and security.

The Frostburg native, who has played a key role in the department since joining it in 1994, said making the decision to leave was not easy.

"I have a strong commitment to the citizens of Cumberland and the men and women I work with, as well as our allied partners, he said. I'm going to miss some of that."

A graduate of Frostburg State University, Leake spent the first five years of his working career with the the Department of Social Services in the Anne Arundel County area.

Working back then with a team of police detectives in collaboration with the Social Services agency, Leake said he was encouraged to enter law enforcement.

Not long after he learned of an opening on the city police, applied and was hired.

His first city police supervisor was now retired Sgt. Ron Horn.

"Sergeant Horn took me under his wing and taught me a ton of stuff. I was a young officer making mistakes and he helped me make those corrections. He had a major impact on my career and I was able to share that with him for the first time recently.

"I've had some great leaders -- Chief Bobby Dick was the consummate professional; Kevin Ogle, who served as acting chief for a time, taught me to stay focused and take the emotion out of issues; and I credit Chief Hinnant for helping me to develop my administrative skills," Leake said.

Leake said he is "very proud of the department."

"I think our officers are some of the most professional members of law enforcement you will ever meet. They are good, hard-working men and women and it has been an honor to work with them.

"They are truly the best in the state in my eyes," said Leake, who was one of the original members of the Cumberland Emergency Response Team, the department's highly trained tactical unit formed in 1998.

Leake served as the CERT commander from 2003 to 2010, the year he was promoted to the position of captain.

As the operations and administrative supervisor in his position as captain, Leake continues to respond to all CERT callouts. There are 11 officers in the unit now, but the staffing level varies.

"It depends on who is interested, available and interested in doing extra duty," Leake said.

Leake achieved the rank of sergeant in 2003 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2006. He was promoted to his present position in 2010.

Among the biggest challenges for police departments cited by Leake is "hiring and retention" of officers.

"We do a lot of recruiting at college campuses, through social media and the internet. It's a wide-open market.

"Every officer that leaves it takes a year to replace before they are trained and developed to be on the street," he said.

Leake said that the department enjoys good relationships with most of the citizens of Cumberland, but there is "a general lack of respect for humanity."

"Our job is to protect and serve the citizens. We get scrutinized so easily, but we get called immediately to help. It's very frustrating at times for our officers," he said.

Regarding his career contributions, Leake hopes he has "mentored some of our officers into supervisory positions."

"I focused a lot of my career on that, trying to help them grow and develop. I'm very proud of our department."

As for his successor, Leake said he and Hinnant will meet with another lieutenant and then "farm out" his duties to four lieutenants and staff.

An interview process will follow with the chief and City Administrator Jeff Rhodes as part of the process leading to the appointment of the department's new operations and administrative supervisor.

"We have very competent lieutenants and I am sure the position will be filled with a dedicated, hard-working individual. You kind of earn it by what you've done throughout your career," he said. Leake said he is excited about his "second career" that begins April 3. His last day as a Cumberland Police officer is March 31.

"I plan to devote just as much energy and efforts to my new position as I have here," he said. "I also look forward to continuing the many working relationships I have enjoyed with various agencies and law enforcement throughout the years."

The health system used the services of a recruiting firm to do a national search for candidates.

"Over the years, Greg has worked cooperatively with WMHS through his role with the Cumberland Police Department and is quite knowledgeable about the challenges we face in terms of safety and security," said Kathy Rogers, health system's director of community relations.

"We are sure that Greg will be a great asset to our safety and security team at WMHS," she said.

Jeff Alderton is a veteran Cumberland Times-News police reporter. To reach him, call/text 301-268-5349, email jlalderton@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter.

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