After only 80 days of looking, Arlington County got a new police chief last month.
In January, former Chief Edward Flynn announced he would retire from his count position to become Secretary of Public Safety under new Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).
At the time, County Manager Ron Carlee promised that the department would have a permanent replacement for Flynn within 90-days. On Wednesday, March 26, Carlee followed through, naming M. Douglas Scott as the new chief of the Arlington County Police Department. Scott will take over from acting Chief Stephen Holl Monday, April 21.
“I’m just real excited about this opportunity,” said Scott. He’s not the only one, Carlee said. “I think the department is actually very excited about Doug Scott,” he said, adding, “Chief Holl has done an extraordinary job in his acting capacity.”
Members of the Arlington Coalition of Police said they were pleased that search concluded within the promised time frame. But that nationwide search ignored talented local leadership, some said. “We’re disappointed in the fact that we couldn’t field a chief from within our department,” said Ken Dennis, President of A-COP.
SCOTT IS CLOSE to being an insider, Dennis pointed out. “He didn’t come up through the Arlington Police Department, but he certainly did come through the Northern Virginia system.”
Indeed, Scott began his career in Fairfax County as a cadet in 1975 and spent the next 20 years working his way up to become chief of that department. He later served as chief of the Fairfax City Police Department before assuming his most current position as Assistant Inspector General for Program Integrity at the U.S. Interior Department.
That experience as a chief in a nearby jurisdiction is what separated Scott from other applicants, Carlee said. After 25 years of work in local law enforcement, Scott said, Interior just didn’t hold the same appeal as being in uniform. “I’m just really anxious to get back into it.”
SCOTT MET WITH local officers several times over the past few weeks. Once he takes over as chief, he plans to do more observations. It’s one of the advantages of hiring someone from the area: Scott can spend his time getting to know the department, rather than spending his time getting used to the law.
“That will allow me to focus on getting to know the community leaders, getting to know the business leaders, and getting to know the men and women of the Arlington County Police Department,” he said.
Local officers and leaders within the department don’t have to worry about major overhauls, Scott said. “The county manager has some things he wants me to look at,” such as emergency preparedness, community policing and technology integration, he said. For a few months, Scott wants to keep up business as usual. Eventually, thought, he may implement new policies covering deployment of officers, and command-level organization.
“I think you can always improve, so if there are changes to be made I won’t hesitate to make them,” said Scott.
Dennis says officers in the department will wait patiently to see how Scott’s tenure progresses. “Let’s get back at this in six months and see how they’re doing,” he said.