Howard County police chief William McMahon to retire June 30

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - Howard County police Chief William McMahon will retire June 30 after a 30-year career in law enforcement, including eight as head of the department, County Executive Ken Ulman announced.

Ulman added he is naming Major Gary Gardner to succeed McMahon.

“Chief McMahon is a respected leader whose professionalism and commitment to service have made Howard County a better place," said Ulman in a statmenent. "He has embraced change, taken the department in new directions and made us safer. We all owe him a debt of gratitude. I am confident that Gary Gardner possesses the talent and skill to continue the progress we have made.”

According to county figures, McMahon, 51, has overseen major drops in crime in Howard County, including a 50 percent drop in auto thefts, 35 percent decrease in robberies and motor vehicle fatalities and a 10 percent drop in burglaries since 2006.

In addition, McMahon helped develop specialized law enforcement units that repeat offenders and domestic violence, and focused resources on senior citizens, Howard County's multicultural population and those with mental health needs. Critical incident training was boosted as well.

“I have enjoyed every day of my career and have been blessed to work with such great co-workers and in such a supportive community,” said McMahon in a statement. “The County Executive and I shared a vision, and we have been able to execute a plan to make the Police Department more responsive to the challenges and changes we face.”

Most recently, McMahon was received praise for his handling of the January shooting at The Mall in Columbia, in which a man shot two mall employees before taking his own life.

Gardner, 55, will take over as chief on July 1. He is a 30-year veteran of the Howard County Police Department who currently holds the position of Deputy Chief for Operations. In this role, he oversees the patrol districts, the operational preparedness division and the youth services division. 

“Gary Gardner is a true leader who has the respect of his colleagues and the experience to provide the high level of public safety we come to expect in Howard County," said Ulman in a statement. "I look forward to working with him as we continue to make progress."

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