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Rockville hires new police chief

Hagerstown Police Chief Victor BritoVictor Brito COUTESY PHOTO

Former Hagerstown chief is committed to community policing

After about five months, 100 candidates and three binders full of suggestions from residents, the search for Rockville’s new police chief finally came to an end last week after the City announced it has hired Victor Brito to lead the department.

Brito, who currently serves as Police Chief for the Hagerstown Police Department, will begin work in Rockville on June 18. Brito is taking over for Acting Police Chief Bob Rappaport, who served as a temporary replacement for Terry Treschuk. Treschuk had been Rockville’s police chief for 27 years until his retirement in June 2016.

Brito, a native of Kensington and a 25-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., said he is committed to community policing, that he wants to build a relationship with the community and to foster trust.

“Arresting people is a small portion of what we do; building relationships and helping people in their community is the number one priority,” Brito told the Sentinel.

Although the City has been without a permanent replacement for Treschuk since his retirement two years ago, the search for his replacement did not begin until five months ago, according to Rockville City Manager Robert DiSpirito. DiSpirito, who was hired as city manager in November 2016, said he needed time talk to city employees, Rockville police officers, and residents to get an understanding of their needs and concerns before he could begin the search for a new police chief.

“I needed a strong communicator to bridge the gap between the command ranks and frontline officers and other employees in the department,” DiSpirito said.

According to DiSpirito, 100 candidates responded to the City’s search for a police chief. The field was eventually narrowed down to seven candidates, who interviewed with DiSpirito in person. The five-month process looked at candidates from across the nation – with DiSpirito, City Attorney Debra Yerg Daniel, a representative from the Department of Finance, and representatives from some of the City’s neighborhoods taking part in the interview process.

DiSpirito selected Brito after several rounds of interviews, saying he was looking for a police chief with experience in policing a diverse community like Rockville. Among the top issues, DiSpirito wanted a police chief who would continue Rockville’s ordinance, which the Council passed last year, preventing City employees from helping to enforce immigration laws.

“I really wanted somebody who would relate well to people and enjoy getting to know the community,” DiSpirito said.

In an interview with the Sentinel, Brito likened Hagerstown to Rockville, saying the structure of both cities is similar and that both cities have similar challenges with gang violence and opioid addiction.

Brito did not offer specific policy changes, if any, he plans to implement at the Rockville Police Department, instead saying his goal was to continue his work that he had done in Hagerstown – that of community policing.

“The fundamental mark of good policing is customer service, being able to provide customer service at a premium level to members of our community,” Brito said.

Brito earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. For 25 years, Brito worked as a police officer in D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, before taking the job as Hagerstown’s police chief two years ago.

In addition to his work in policing, Brito also is an adjunct professor at American University’s School of Public Affairs.

@neal_earley

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