New police chief seeks to repair community trust
By Heather Wright
Hyattsville has announced the hiring of Col. Jarod J. Towers, as its ninth permanent chief of police, according to a Sept. 7 city press release. He will assume the new position on Oct. 3. While serving in Cheverly, Towers has promoted community engagement, including establishing a youth kickball league. He upgraded IT infrastructure, including body-worn and in-car camera systems. He also emphasized inclusion and transparency, and took stands for racial justice, saying, in April, “Our roots as a profession are born from the seeds of white supremacy.”
Towers served in the Iraq War as a U.S. Marine, first joining the military in 2002. He began his police career in 2006, with the Maryland State Police. Joining the Cheverly Police Department in 2009 as a patrol officer, Towers rose through the ranks to become acting chief in 2018 and permanent chief in 2019, according to the Town of Cheverly website.
Towers has received numerous accolades during his career, and this year he became an International Association of Chiefs of Police 40-Under-40 award recipient. The association noted, “He has established an implicit bias training program, trained his officers on African American history and culture, and taken steps to ensure the values of marginalized communities, to include LGBTQ+, are included in all principles of the department. Additionally, he’s established a youth kickball league and was able to make department staffing changes that have significantly increased morale.”
In mid-April, as the verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd approached, a group of Cheverly residents scheduled a pro-police prayer vigil there. The day before the vigil, Towers posted a message thanking the participants and asking them to also pray for the “families and communities across the county that have been directly impacted by the broken trust that police have caused.”
In his message, Towers described how the profession of policing had helped communities through the “public health emergency” of the pandemic but not through “this racial justice emergency.” He wrote that his profession had “not cut deep enough” at its roots in white supremacy “to remove the rot and grow anew.”
The city’s press release quoted Towers’ thoughts about stepping into his role as Hyattsville’s chief of police. He said, “With a focus on the principles of compassion, empathy, diversity, and inclusion, co-producing public safety through collaboration with the citizens of Hyattsville will be the hallmark of my administration. Thank you for putting your trust in me to lead a police department which Hyattsville already has reason to look on with pride. I look forward to what we will accomplish together.”
“This was not an easy decision, as we had some strong candidates,” said Hyattsville Mayor Kevin Ward, explaining the lengthy selection process. “Eventually, [Towers] rose above everyone else in everything we were looking for.”
Hyattsville City Administrator Tracey Douglas described Towers as having a “commitment to ensuring community engagement, active listening, officer training and wellness, transparency and accountability,” according to the Hyattsville police department press release.
Town of Cheverly Administrator Dylan Galloway said, “There is no doubt Chief Towers’ leadership has left the agency even more prepared to professionally respond to the needs of the community than when he arrived. I will be focused on selecting a chief who will build upon Chief Towers’ legacy of progress and professionalism is policing,” according to a Sept. 7 Cheverly press release.
Towers grew up in Thornburg, Va. and Cherry Hill, N.J., according to the Cheverly website. He received a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland.
According to the Hyattsville police department press release, Towers is a recent graduate of the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Policing (SMIP), a member of the executive board of the Police Chief’s Association of Prince George’s County, and a member of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association legislative committee.
Towers will replace former Chief Amal Awad, who became chief of the Anne Arundel Police Department in Dec. 2020. Acting Chief Scott Dunklee will return to his position as deputy chief once Towers comes on board. Towers will oversee a much larger department, as the HCPD, with more than 40 officers, is at least quadruple the size of Cheverly’s.