G. Wayne Livesay was sworn in as Chief of Police in December of 1998.

William J. McMahon was sworn in as Chief of Police on January 29, 2007, having served as a Howard County officer since 1986.

© 2014 Howard County Police Foundation.

A Brief History of the Howard County Police Department: 1997–Present

by Pfc. Allen Hafner (Retired)

The dynamic growth of Howard County has been mentioned several times in this history. The impact of this growth can only be appreciated by looking at the census reports: 

  • When the Howard District of Anne Arundel County held its first government session in 1840, the District’s population was just under 12,000.

  • By 1940 the population had increased to a little over 17,000.

  • This figure doubled to 36,152 people by 1960 and to 61,900 by 1970.

  • The next thirty years saw the most dramatic growth, with the population reaching 130,000 in 1980 and 201,000 in 1991.  

  • By 1997, the population of the county had surged 230,000 residents.

  • As of 2014, the county population exceeded 300,000.

In 1998, Chief Robey retired from the Police Department in order to run for the office of County Executive. G. Wayne Livesay served as Acting Chief starting in January of 1998, and was sworn in as Chief on December 21, 1998. Chief Livesay, who had been a Howard County officer since 1972, proceeded to lead the Department through a number of technological advancements.


In 1999, online booking was made possible with direct computer connections to Maryland's Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS). This was also the year that Mobile Data Computers (MDCs) were installed in patrol cars and a cooperative helicopter service agreement was implemented in conjunction with the Anne Arundel County Police. The helicopter unit's first flight was in May of 2000.

In 1999, Howard County Police and Anne Arundel County Police entered into a cooperative helicopter service agreement.

In February of 2000, Chief Livesay announced that all police applicants would need at least 60 college credits. This was also the year the departmental website went online, serving as a useful tool for disseminating information to the public and recruiting new officers. The following year, HCPD assumed responsibility for the operation of the Bureau of Communications, including the 911 center and all dispatchers for police, fire, and other county departments.


In 2001, one patrol car was painted solid black in honor of the first county police car, marked as number 50 to mark the 50th anniversary since the purchase of the first police car.


In 2001, one police car was painted black to mark the 50th anniversary of the purchase of the first HCPD police car.

The September 11 terrorist attacks changed security procedures across the nation. As county residents were killed in the Pentagon, these attacks had a direct effect on Howard County. It was later discovered that the terrorists had stayed in a Howard County motel prior to the attacks. All officers and civilian employees received a commendation pin in recognition of their work during this period.

Officers and civilians alike received a commendation pin in recognition of their work in the period following the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

On January 15, 2002, Nancy Yeager became the first female officer promoted to Captain. A few weeks later, on the 29th, a special ceremony was held to start HCPD's 50th Anniversary year. Other activities during the year included a day at Oriole Park, a family picnic, a Law Enforcement Expo and the Columbia Lakefront, and a final tribute during the departmental Christmas party.

In 2002, a special ceremony was held to celebrate HCPD's 50th anniversary year.  This photo depicts all of the former HCPD Chiefs who were living at the time, along with then-Chief Wayne Livesay.


From left to right: Robert O. Mathews, Jr., James N. Robey, Jr., Paul H. Rappaport, E. Russell Moxley, Frederick W. Chaney, and G. Wayne Livesay.

In October of 2002, what appeared to be a random shooting incident in Montgomery County became a three week shooting spree throughout the Washington metropolitan area. HCPD officers provided security at all schools, plus observation posts at all roads that crossed the border with Montgomery County. Other officers were assigned to the investigative task force. The suspects were eventually captured at a rest stop on I-70. All officers and civilian employees received a special commendation pin in recognition of the extra effort they put forth during the investigation.

All officers and civilian employees received a special commendation pin for extra effort put forth during the investigation of the Beltway Sniper attacks.

The darker color scheme of the 50th anniversary police car proved popular, and following a department-wide vote, the white cars were gradually replaced by the sleeker, darker color scheme. The new design won the approval of a number of officers and citizens alike.


On March 28, 2005, a new booking center was opened, and HCPD's former booking officers were transferred to the Department of Corrections.

A new booking center (the smaller of the two buildings, bottom right) was opened right next to the Department of Corrections in 2005.

During the 2006 on-site assessment for reaccreditation, HCPD exceeded CALEA requirements and became a certified flagship agency. CALEA introduced its Flagship Agency Program in December 2004, in order to acknowledge the achievement and expertise of some of the most successful CALEA Accredited Agencies, and also to assist others by providing “flagship examples.”

In 2006, HCPD exceeded accreditation standards, earning the title of "Flagship Agency."

William J. McMahon was appointed Acting Chief June 1, 2006, after Chief Livesay announced his retirement. McMahon was appointed Chief by the new County Executive on December 5, 2006, and was sworn in on January 29, 2007. Chief McMahon had been a Howard County officer since 1986. HCPD continued to steadily expand its scope; an expanded Animal Control building was dedicated on October 23, 2006.

An expanded Animal Control facility was dedicated in October of 2006.

On June 16, 2007, Pfc. Scott A. Wheeler, age 31, was working a speed enforcement detail on eastbound Route 32, near Savage, when he was struck by a vehicle he was attempting to stop. Wheeler was immediately flown to Shock-Trauma, but did not survive. He died of his injuries on June 18.  Chief McMahon posthumously promoted Officer Wheeler to the rank of Corporal.

The portion of Route 32 on which Cpl. Wheeler was struck has been dedicated in his honor.

In 2007, HCPD purchased its own helicopter, a Bell 407, and acquired a new Mobile Command Post. This was also the year that Kevin Burnett was promoted to Major, making him the first African American officer to become a Deputy Chief.

In 2007, HCPD purchased its own helicopter and acquired a new mobile command post.

The main building on the campus of the Public Safety Training Center was dedicated on October 29, 2007. The road leading up to the center was named in honor of Cpl. Wheeler, who had fallen in the line of duty only a few months prior.

The main building of the Public Safety Training Center was dedicated in October of 2007.

The memorial plaza at the Warfield Building was rebuilt in 2008 and dedicated in May.



8267 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043



(410) 313-1447


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Saturday 11 AM - 6 PM

Sunday 11 AM - 4 PM


October thru March

 Saturday & Sunday

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