E. Russell Moxley was appointed Chief of Second District Police on June 1, 1951 and given the job of organizing a county police department.  On January 2, 1952, he was named the first Chief of the newly established HCPD.

Harry Harrison was appointed "Officer Superior" in 1959.  He adopted the title of Acting Chief.

© 2014 Howard County Police Foundation.

A Brief History of the Howard County Police Department: 1951–1961

by Pfc. Allen Hafner (Retired)

E. Russell Moxley was appointed Chief of Second District Police on June 1, 1951, and was given the job of organizing a county police department. The first police car, a 1951 Ford, was delivered in August of 1951.


In October of 1951, Harry Harrison was hired as a Second District officer, but was given the authority to work "at large" in the county. Records kept by Chief Moxley indicate that they began county-wide patrols in late 1951. A budget of $10,000 was approved, to be paid for by fees and fines from new parking meters installed throughout Ellicott City.

The first designated police car, a 1951 Ford, was delivered in August of 1951, following the appointment of E. Russell Moxley as Chief of Police.

On the morning of January 2, 1952, the County Commissioners passed a resolution naming E. Russell Moxley as Chief of Police for Howard County. The police officers named in the resolution were Harry Harrison, Charles Linthicum and Fred Zeltman, men who had been working as District Police Officers. That same morning all four men were sworn in as the first Howard County Police. A fifth officer, Raymond Pickett, was added later in the month. Headquarters was in the former Second District Police station on Main Street in Ellicott City, shared with a magistrate and his courtroom.

This 1952 resolution officially created the Howard County Police Department. All four county police officers were sworn in on the same day.

The new county Department continued to utilize the old Second District police station in Ellicott City. By 1956 they had expanded to six officers and two patrol cars. Their radios were on the state police frequency. There was no merit system; instead, all officers were subject to annual appointment.

By 1956, the police force had expanded to six officers, all of whom were subject to annual appointment.

The Department continued to steadily expand; in 1957 the Department grew to nine officers and three cars total. Two of these officers, Randy Brightwell and Paul A. Steppe, would become the first trained K-9 officers in 1959. More officers and cars were slowly added over the next few years.


In June of 1957, the Department's first firearms range was set up at the county landfill on New Cut Road. This range would remain in operation until 1964, when maintenance funding was cut.

The Department's first firearms range was set up at the county landfill in 1957.

1957 was also the year new radio frequencies were obtained and the county police radios were removed from the state police frequencies. Separate dispatchers were soon hired to work at police headquarters. All other county communications were later consolidated under a single entity. This operation became known as Central Alarm and was officially dedicated on April 18, 1959.

In 1959, county communications were consolidated under a single entity known as Central Alarm.

In December of 1958, Chief Moxley submitted a proposed set of regulations to the Board of County Commissioners. This basic list of 30 rules and regulations was approved by the Board on January 6, 1959, and the elements of all 30 can still be found in the General Orders that govern HCPD officers today.

Just two months later, in March of 1959, Chief Moxley received notification from the Board that he would not be reappointed as Chief when the annual appointments were made on May 1. In his stead, the Board appointed Lt. Harry Harrison "Officer Superior" of the Police Department. Harrison adopted the title of Acting Chief and got directly to work, creating the county's first K-9 Unit later that same year.

The county's first K-9 unit was created in 1959. Training was conducted by Baltimore City Sgt. Bill Kerbe, who lived in Ellicott City.

Other changes in 1959 included the color of the patrol cars, which were painted white with a light blue roof and hood. 1959 was also the year that the decision was made to hire a female officer.

In 1959 the design of the police cars was changed to that shown above, with a white body and light blue roof and hood.

Officer Betty Maris was hired in 1960, but was not issued a uniform and did not go on patrol. Instead, she worked in the office, helped with female prisoners, and assisted in abuse cases. Officer Maris worked for HCPD for two years.

This advertisement for a policewoman was placed in 1959. Officer Betty Maris was hired for the job, but she was restricted to office duties, and was never issued a uniform.

1961 marked the introduction of the eagle-style door shield and shoulder patch. This was also the year that leather jackets were first issued for patrol use. The General Assembly passed an act that year which officially created the office of Chief of Police, with a term of one year. However, tragedy struck before a decision about a new chief could be made.

Officers were first issued leather jackets for patrol use in 1961.

In the early morning hours of May 29, 1961, Officer Randy Brightwell was murdered during a routine traffic stop. Officer Brightwell stopped a car for a loud muffler, unaware the two men in the car had just robbed and killed the owner of a gas station. During the stop the men attacked Officer Brightwell, killing him with his own gun.


Both suspects were captured a short time later. They were subsequently convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for life.


In tribute to the ultimate sacrifice made by Brightwell, the Police Department posthumously awarded its highest commendation, the Medal of Honor, to Brightwell.

This 1971 photo depicts officers placing flowers at the grave of Officer Randy Brightwell, who was slain in the line of duty.



8267 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043



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