James Rada, Jr.
(3/6) Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler
will be the first person to tell you that his
department is facing some challenges. His
department, which is budgeted for 12 officers
has only five on the street. One more is being
trained at the police academy, one is on
extended sick leave, one is on administrative
leave facing charges of serving alcohol to
minors and one recently resigned after being
accused of violating a general order.
“We’re going to move forward,” Eyler
recently told a group of citizens at a meeting
of the Thurmont Economic Development
Commission. “We’re not going to let this last
incident tear us down. Sometimes you have to
tear something down in order to rebuild it and
we’re going to rebuild.”
Eyler believes the department has come a
long way since he came on two years ago. His
officers are interacting more with the
community and the town is doing more for
recruitment and retention.
“My expectation for them is that I want
them to be professional,” Eyler said.
However, as the recent headlines show, his
department is still facing some challenges.
One of those challenges is recruiting enough
good officers to fill the open positions.
During a recent application process, 17 people
applied, but only one made it through the
process to go to the police academy.
“I’m not going to lower my standards just
to put people on the streets,” Eyler said.
He said he has had some interest from
police officers retiring from other agencies
like Westminister, Baltimore County and Howard
County in relocating to Thurmont and starting
a second career. Also, Eyler is planning to
fill his open lieutenant position from outside
the department to get someone with experience.
For the time being, Eyler has restructured
the work shifts to try and ensure coverage.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has also
provided limited coverage to fill holes in the
Besides recruitment and retention of
officers. Eyler said politics are challenging
the department with town officials who are
seeking to micromanage the police department,
which is not their responsibility.
The police department has been criticized
by some officials and residents for seeking a
new, larger police station.
“It’s not too big,” Eyler said. “It fits
the needs of the department. It’s 8100 square
feet and it’s going to serve us for many, many
Eyler said another challenge is changing
the attitude of residents from a “small town
mentality” of people who can leave their homes
unlocked. He also is working to change
residents’ opinions of his police department,
particularly in the wake of the bad press it
“To be honest with you, there are still
people out there who say we are a bunch of
rejects,” Eyler said.
He argues that that is not the case. His
officers are trained just as officers in
larger departments are, but his officers are
expected to do more because his department is
“We don’t have anything really
specialized,” Eyler said. “When an officer
gets a call, they have to handle everything.”
And they will. Eyler plans to make sure his
men and women serve Thurmont and protect its