Robert O. Mathews, Jr. was sworn in as Chief of Police on April 15, 1975.

On January 2, 1979, Paul H. Rappaport became Howard County's Chief of Police.

In 1987, Frederick W. Chaney was tapped to serve as Chief of Police.

James N. Robey, Jr. became Chief of Police in 1991.

© 2014 Howard County Police Foundation.

A Brief History of the Howard County Police Department: 1975–1996

by Pfc. Allen Hafner (Retired)

Robert O. Mathews, Jr. was sworn in as Chief on April 15, 1975, after the resignation of Chief Walters. Chief Mathews quickly set about creating specialty units to address specific needs of the community. New programs established during this period include the Traffic Enforcement Section, a Tactical Section (SWAT), and Youth Services.


The first tactical unit was formed in May 1975, named SST, or Special Suppression Team. The unit's name has changed several times.

Tropical Storm Eloise struck the county in September 1975, bringing devastating floodwaters, much like those caused by Agnes in 1972. Officers who worked these floods received a special commendation.

Officers who worked the floods brought on by Tropical Storm Eloise received a special commendation.

By 1976 the county was growing rapidly. The population was 115,000, more than twice that of 1968. Calls for police service exceeded 35,000, more than three times the 1968 total. The Police Department began hiring and training larger numbers of officers to meet the needs of the expanding community.

By 1976, it was clear the Department needed to expand its capabilities by hiring more officers.

Despite Chief Mathews' efforts, the crime rate continued to increase in accordance with the sudden increase in population. After the election of a new administration, Chief Mathews was notified that he would not be reappointed.

Paul H. Rappaport, a retired Major from Maryland State Police, was sworn in as Chief on January 2, 1979.That same year marked the start of the PVSP, or Police Vehicle Saturation Program, which allows offers to take their assigned patrol vehicles home.

The Police Vehicle Saturation Program of take-home cars began when the first car was issued to Pfc. Terry Chaney in 1979.

1979 also marked the beginning of Camp Bear Trax and the formation of the Howard County Police Officers' Association (HCPOA). This was also the year that the four county office buildings on Court House Drive were named for the four Governors from Howard County, with police headquarters named for Governor Edwin Warfield.


Although the 911 emergency telephone system was established in 1978, it took several years to expand through the entire country, reaching Howard County in 1980. This is also the year that the first Mobile Command Post was placed in service. This vehicle was a surplus ambulance with the interior converted to a communications center.  

In 1980, a surplus amblance was converted into the Department's first Mobile Command Center.

Continued expansion and the creation of specialty units soon caused the Department to outgrow its headquarters building. Some specialty units operated from other office locations around the county, notably the Education & Training Division, which began holding classes at the campus of Howard Community College as early as 1979. A new wing added to the Warfield Building opened in 1984, expanding the available office space by fifty percent.

In 1984, a new wing was added to the Warfield Building, creating much-needed office space.

The establishment of new programs and specialty units continued through the 1980s. These included an Honor Guard and a full-time Public Information Office. Sobriety Checkpoints were adopted as a means of drunk-driving enforcement, and drug resistance programs were begun in the schools. HCPD organized Maryland’s first Special Olympics Torch Run in 1986 and continues to be a major contributor to the program. In 1987, the Communications Section was remodeled, and the Department integrated Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD).

In 1987, the Communications Section received a much-needed upgrade to their facilities.

On August 1, 1987, Frederick W. Chaney, a retired Deputy Chief from Montgomery County Police, was sworn in as Chief. Soon after taking command, Chief Chaney approved the permanent night shift, and the Street Drug Unit was formed.


In 1988, HCPD entered a pact with Maryland State Police to clarify patrol responsibilities. State troopers would no longer handle routine calls for service in Howard County, with the exception of situations involving interstate highways and state property. This was also the year that the first DWI checkpoint was conducted in the County.

In September of 1988, HCPD conducted its first DWI checkpoint.


In 1990 a major step towards professionalism was taken when the Department became nationally certified by CALEA, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. This accreditation means the Department meets or exceeds established national standards. The accreditation process is ongoing, including on-site assessments and the updating of written rules and procedures. HCPD was the 3rd CALEA-accredited agency in the state of Maryland and 152nd in the nation.

Tragedy struck the law enforcement community on March 29 of 1990. Maryland State Police Corporal Ted Wolf, age 40, was murdered during a traffic stop on I-95. Though he was not a member of HCPD, Cpl. Wolf had worked closely with HCPD officers and developed many strong friendships. Half of his pall bearers were county officers.

James N. Robey, Jr. was sworn in as Chief on March 20, 1991. He became a Howard County officer in 1966 and came up through the ranks. He was also the Department's first Major, having attained that honor in 1981. One of Robey's first acts as Chief was to oversee the opening of a new departmental firearms range, which was located on the west side of the county's Alpha Ridge landfill.

A new departmental firearms range was opened in 1991.

All county radio communications were consolidated under the county's General Services Administration. The new Bureau of Central Communications was separate from the police and fire departments. Police dispatchers moved out of headquarters and joined the fire dispatchers on the ground floor of the George Howard Building. A new CAD system went into Operation in October 1991.


In 1992, ground was broken for the new Southern District Station on Route 216, which would be a combined police and fire facility. This was also the year that reflective blue stripes were added to the sides of the plain white patrol cars, providing better visibility.

Reflective stripes were added to the white police cars in 1992.

In 1993, a Police Neighborhood Satellite Office (PNSO) was opened in the Stevens Forest apartment complex. This was the first of several similar offices to open. Later that same year, the administration of the Office of Animal Control was placed under the Police Department.

The first Police Neighborhood Satellite Office opened in 1993.

On November 2, 1994, Recruit Officer Roger D. Cassell, Jr. completed a two-mile run with his academy class and then collapsed on the parking lot. Classmates and emergency personnel administered CPR, but Cassell could not be revived. He died, at age 28, of a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

In 1994, following a training exercise, Recruit Officer Roger D. Cassell, Jr. died of a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

In 1995, Nancy Yeager became the first female officer promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, and the formation of an Auxiliary unit was approved. The Howard County Police Retired Officers Association was formed in 1996, which was also the year that Police Service Aide positions were approved, enabling the use of trained civilians to handle duties at the front desk and take reports via telephone.

The first class of Police Auxiliary Officers completed training on November 11, 1995.



8267 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043



(410) 313-1447


April thru September

Saturday 11 AM - 6 PM

Sunday 11 AM - 4 PM


October thru March

 Saturday & Sunday

11 AM - 4 PM

*Group tours and special visits can be arranged upon request.


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