Mount Rainier Chief of Police Anthony Morgan will resign in February, ending a two-year career leading the city police department. Morgan was the city’s first African-American police chief in its 110 year history. In an interview with Route 1 Reporter, Morgan said he had accepted another chief of police job at an department outside of Maryland, but declined to specify further because that department has not announced his hire yet.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as chief of police for the last two years,” said Morgan in a statement posted to social media. “I have enjoyed working alongside a dedicated group of public safety professionals.”
Morgan’s appointment as the city’s top cop was announced Jan. 30, 2019. He was among a class of new Route 1-corridor police chiefs who broke the color barrier in their cities, joining Hyattsville and University Park, which also hired their first African American chiefs of police in 2019.
Morgan stepped into the position at a difficult time. The police department had been hit by financial and sexual harassment scandals that saw Morgan’s predecessor suddenly resign in the summer of 2018. During his time in Mount Rainier, Morgan overhauled the department’s leadership staff and won praise from residents for increased communication and a renewed focus on “hands on” community policing. He even briefly served as the city manager.
“As far as challenges: coming in after a scandal, you are dealing with having to improve morale within your organization, having to redefine the mission and purpose of the organization, and to reconnect with the community,” said Morgan. “I am proud to see the department turn the corner from where it was when I got here to where it is today.”
Morgan said he is proud of how his department responded to the challenges of 2020, a pandemic-wracked year which saw renewed focus on racial justice and policing. Morgan’s department worked with protestors to safely hold a Black Lives Matter rally in Mount Rainier, and also was heavily involved in the city’s pandemic food distribution efforts.
“We shifted gears as we needed to, focusing on traditional law enforcement roles – dealing with car thefts – but also the food distribution we are a part of,” said Morgan. “That will be something I’ll look back on, quite honestly, fondly.”
Before his time in Mount Rainier, Morgan was the chief of police for the city of Covington, Virginia. Prior to that, Morgan worked for 15 years with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.
Morgan will be succeeded by assistant chief of police Linwood Alston.
“I am both humbled and excited to continue to lead the professional men and women of the city of Mount Rainier Police Department,” said Alston in a statement. “It has been an honor to be led by chief Anthony Morgan during the transformation and restructuring of this agency.”