Bellaire police chief defends controversial hire

Community

Chief Dick Flanagan says Timothy Loehmann was up front from the beginning.

He walked in, introduced himself, and said “I’m sure you know my name.”

Flanagan says he told Loehmann that he certainly did know his name, but invited him to sit down and talk.

Flanagan said he believes Loehmann was much “younger” four years ago.

“Like all of us, when we first get hired, we’re going 800 mile an hour, we want to set the world on fire, gonna save the world, arrest everybody,” he said. “I believe in giving everybody an extra chance. He wasn’t found guilty of anything.”

He noted Loehmann was fired from the Cleveland Police Department, not for Tamir Rice’s death, but for not disclosing that he failed the test for another police department.

“Was it an oversight on his part that he didn’t report that?” asks Flanagan. “Or was it a typo or something? Cleveland ended up following up on that.”

And he said he was let go from another department as well.

“And at that time they felt he was not mature enough,” noted Flanagan.

He said the shooting of Tamir Rice was a tragedy.

“It’s just unfortunate that a young person lost their life,” said Flanagan. “I know how that feels. I feel for that family.”

The chief said Loehmann has gone out in the cars with his officers.

“He’s a well-liked guy,” he said. “Despite what happened, he does bring good things with him. His tactics, his education. The kid talks articulate.”

Before he begins work for the department, Loehmann must still complete 16 hours of training and take a test.

Flanagan says his phone is ringing non-stop.

He wants to assure every segment of the community that it’s going to be OK.

“I don’t thumb my nose at anybody,” Flanagan said. “I have black relatives. I can assure everybody in Bellaire that my officers are quite capable and conduct themselves professionally, and nobody in this community has to worry about a Bellaire police officer.”

Flanagan hired another controversial person in December.

Eric Smith had been dismissed as Bethesda Police chief for improper use of the police computer.

Flanagan says he eventually had some “grave concerns” about Smith, and so he’s no longer employed at the Bellaire Police Department.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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