Millersville, MD – The popular police chief of Anne Arundel County shocked his department and the community on Tuesday when he suddenly announced his resignation, saying he didn’t want to be a part of a movement that endangers police and communities.
The announcement came a few days after an excessive-force lawsuit was filed against three of his officers by Daniel Jarrells, who alleged he was injured in February when officers took him into custody, including one of them kneeling on his neck, WUSA reported.
But Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare said the Jarrells case had nothing to do with his decision to retire.
Chief Altomare penned a lengthy opinion column on the state of policing in America that ran in the Capital Gazette on July 21 and attempted to explain his abrupt decision.
The column began with a thank you to the current and former Anne Arundel county executives and the news he had “made the decision this afternoon that it is time for me to ‘hang up my cleats’ as chief.”
“There is a movement in this nation and in this county to remove the teeth of the police,” the chief wrote. “It is wrong and it will have grave and lasting effects that you will see and feel. Violent crime is already ramping up across the country and here, in our county. I have been told I should be ashamed of considering us sheepdogs, that it is somehow biased against certain groups. That is false!”
“The flock needs protecting, the sheepdogs do that when the wolf shows up,” Chief Altomare explained in the Capital Gazette. “I am a sheepdog and will not apologize for it. If society takes the teeth from its sheepdogs, there is simply more sheep for the slaughter.”
“I humbly suggest this nation and this state and this county wake up from the nightmare it is creating for itself before the violence gets to a point where we can’t recover,” the chief added.
“By your very silence, you are backing your elected officials into corners where they feel only those seeking to bind the police more tightly have a view. It is not right and they need to hear from you who have faith in your police. The alternative is anarchy and entropy,” he continued.
“To the men and women of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, I love you and I could not be more proud of you as an agency,” Chief Altomare wrote. “Continue to hold each other accountable and do it right. Be upright when you see one of us doing wrong. Stand up against injustice.”
“I am not leaving because I want to,” he told them. “I am leaving because I will not be a part of a movement that endangers you or the people we are sworn to protect. You have never systemically failed the people of this county or me! Thank you!”
“Hold your heads up and be the police. It is among the most-noble of professions. Don’t let anyone twist that in your head!” Chief Altomare added.
The chief, whose resignation will be effective on Aug. 1, wrote in the Capital Gazette that he supported protesting the injustice of George Floyd’s death, and thanked the community leaders he had worked with during his six years as chief.
But he also laid out a very serious reality for those who would defund or further disarm police officers.
“The police, however, have rights too; to stay safe, to not be assaulted, to due process … I have and will always hold officers who do wrong accountable. I would have done so in the case of the recent video and lawsuit,” the chief said.
He reiterated that his retirement was not pinned to the Jarrells case.
“I cannot, however, endorse a future in which cop’s rights are stripped away and your officers are treated like the criminals. They are brave to a fault and faithful unto death. God speed and thank you Anne Arundel County! Please, support your police officers,” Chief Altomare finished.
Anne Arundel County was expected to release more information about proposed police reforms this week, including changes to the use of choke holds and neck restraints.
Sources said the chief’s resignation was tied to conversations with county leaders and lawmakers who were crafting the new police policies.