SEABROOK – Colonel Douglas Holland announced his retirement as the chief of police for the City of Hyattsville after nearly 20 years in the position on June 27.
Holland, 67, who officially stepped down on July 1, says the timing was perfect. He has been speaking with his wife, Susan, about his retirement for “a number of months.” Officers were told of Holland’s impending departure in a meeting in late April, Captain Amal Awad said.
“It is time to get fresh energy, ideas and leadership to the city of Hyattsville,” Holland said. “It’s been an honor to work with all the police officers in Hyattsville but also with all the talented department directors, city administrators and the exponentially good mayor and city council. Everything has been great but it is just a feeling like it is time to retire. I can now spend more time with my family and pay more attention to my family.”
“We did not know it was coming so suddenly,” Awad said. “We all anticipated that in the next couple of years that Chief Holland would retire, but we had not discussed it…It was very emotional at that meeting. We all went around the table and shared our thoughts and sentiments on how he has impacted all of us throughout the agency.”
The department has slowly been building momentum under Holland. In 1999, Hyattsville became internationally recognized and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). They have maintained the certified status since, leading Holland to receive CALEA Egon Bittner Award for Excellence in Leadership, becoming the second police chief of the State of Maryland to be honored the award.
“(Earning CALEA accreditation) is the gold standard of professionalism and we have the longest-running record of any department in Prince George’s County to be an accredited agency,” Holland said.
The City of Hyattsville covers three square miles, and the department has made strides to be one of the more technologically-friendly force in the state. Currently, Hyattsville is the only city in Maryland with an electric police car and motorcycle that patrols parks and walking trails.
During a nationwide push pressuring on-duty police officers to wear body cameras, Holland said it was important to become one of the first departments to work with the technology once the county began the phase-in process in 2016.
Despite the significant successes, Holland said there was room for improvement, including having a full staff of officers. According to Holland, the city has 40 of their 44 spots filled. While that is a higher amount of staff than most departments, more can be completed with a full roster of officers, Holland said.
“That is a frustration that I share with every other police chief in the United States right now,” Holland said. "And for a department our size, it is significant.”
As Holland leaves, overall crime in Hyattsville is down 2.19 percent from 2016-2017. However, according to the police department’s first quarter crime reports, there are two reported rapes in the first four months of 2018 after none last year and 12 citizen robberies.
Holland becomes the second chief in the county to step down in a month. On June 1, Mount Rainier’s Michael Scott announced his retirement after serving 16 years, 12 as the chief, as he and six other officers were placed on administrative leave on April 23 for throwing out parking tickets, lowering enforcement fees and other possible financial issues within the department.
A process has begun to find the city’s new police chief and Awad will serve as the interim police chief according to Holland. His recommendation is promoting Awad to the role full-time. She joined the force on April 2017 after serving 23 years as a major with the Prince George’s County Police Department and proved her worth to be a capable leader for the department, Holland said.
“I think she is capable and eager and very-much willing (to do this role),” Holland said. “She has very much earned the respect of our officers and residences. And it is nice to be able to leave and get fresh eyes and leadership when things are going well.”
One week after his departure, Holland’s presence is still being felt by officers in the department according to Awad. However, the staff is committed to keeping the standards as high as Holland left them while looking to make improvements for Hyattsville, Awad said.
“Chief Holland will always be Chief Holland to us,” Awad said. “He lives in the city, and he is welcome to come back whenever he feels like spending time with us.”