Montgomery County Police Chief Manger stepping down, FOP Lodge offers critical review

Major Cities Chiefs Association President and Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Tom Manger, center, with, from left, U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, Providence, R.I. Mayor Jorge Elorza, Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler, Manger, Columbia, S.C. Mayor Steve Benjamin, and U.S. Conference of Mayors Vice President and New Orleans, La. Mayor Mitch Landrieu, together with other U.S. Conference of Mayors leadership speaks to reporters outside the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, April 25, 2017, following a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

After 15 years as chief and 42 years as a police officer, Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger is retiring.

Manger announced Wednesday that he will retire in April, according to a statement released by the county.

“This is a bittersweet day for Montgomery County,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Chief Manger has set the bar high for police leadership, outstanding service both locally and nationally, and leaves the department and County better and safer than when he arrived.”

Elrich praised Manger for being a pioneer in de-escalation training for officers and for requiring officers to wear body-worn cameras, even wearing one himself to set an example.

In December, Washingtonian magazine named Manger as one of its 2018 Washingtonians of the Year. The magazine cited him for building trust with the county’s diverse communities:

Manger also stresses the importance of serving the county’s growing Latino community. Many immigrants have a fear of the unknown, he says. Manger is out several nights a week, accompanied by Spanish-speaking officers, to explain how police can help residents and assure people that his department isn’t an arm of federal immigration agencies.

“Chief Manger often says that the most important qualities he seeks in new officers are communication skills, which are essential in building relationships of trust and diffusing conflicts, and compassion, which cannot be taught,” Elrich said.

Elrich also said Manger was instrumental in Maryland’s passage of Noah’s Law, the 2016 Drunk Driving Reduction Act. Named for Officer Noah Leotta, who was killed by a drunk driver, the law strengthened Maryland’s requirement for first-time drunk drivers to have an ignition interlock system on their vehicles.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Manger served with the Fairfax County Police Department for 27 years, and as its police chief from 1998 to 2004.

He was sworn in as Montgomery County Police Chief on January 30, 2004. He began his career in 1976 as a “summer cop” in Ocean City, Maryland.

Manger has been the elected president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association for the past four years. He said he will now lead the association’s team to promote legislation in Washington.

The statement from the county listed some of the awards Manger has received:

During the course of his career in Montgomery County, Manger received several national awards, including the 2007 Law Enforcement Award from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the 2016 Gorowitz Institute Service Award from the Anti-Defamation League, the 2017 Keeper of the Dream award from the National Immigration Forum, and the 2018 FBI National Executive Institute Penwith Award. Manger was also inducted into the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame in 2012.

Manger's departure announcement was met with criticism from the county's Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35, who said in a statement that Manger was "unwilling to cooperatively work" with them, and "did not have the decency to communicate his retirement to the working police officers of Montgomery County."

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