New police chief: 'I'm up for the challenge'

Mayor David Foster, left, welcomes newly hired Chestertown Police Chief Ron Dixon at the Sept. 29 swearing-in ceremony.

CHESTERTOWN — Ron Dixon formally met the mayor and council here for the first time as the newly hired police chief on Monday and, because all town government meetings now are live-streamed, he was able to introduce himself to the larger Chestertown community.

He is a lawman with nearly three decades of experience on the Mid-Shore, retiring in December from the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office with the rank of lieutenant.

Dixon succeeds Lt. John Dolgos, the acting chief since September 2019, who retired at the end of September.

The Town of Chestertown announced Dixon’s hiring in a news release Sept. 27. He was sworn in by Mayor David Foster on Sept. 29 and had been working part time for the last three weeks to fulfill a prior commitment.

Monday was Dixon’s first day as the full-time top cop.

“Thank you mayor and council for supporting me and choosing me for this job. I’m up for the challenge,” he said from the podium during the council meeting as a segue to the Chestertown Police Department’s report for the month of September.

“I hope to make you proud and serve the town well,” he said.

Dixon promised to be a “working chief.”

On Monday, he issued several traffic citations and returned a lost wallet.

He already has met with Washington College’s public safety director and members of the Kent County Narcotics Task Force and “reintroduced” himself to Kent County Sheriff John Price.

He is scheduling meetings with leadership of the Department of Social Services, Kent County Public Schools, Kent County Emergency Services, Kent County State’s Attorney office and the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.

“I’m trying to make my way around ... letting people know who I am and where I’m coming from,” Dixon said.

He met with the entire CPD staff Oct. 13, what he described as “a productive meeting.”

“It started off a little ‘who’s he? I don’t know,’ but in the end, after about two and a half hours, I think there was a lot of progress made and it wasn’t a complaint session at all,” he said.

There was “some very valid communication back and forth, and some expectations that I had,” Dixon added.

He said he did a lot of listening to get a feel for “where we are. ... I think there is a very good foundation.”

Moving forward there will be an emphasis on recruitment and retention.

Addressing questions from the mayor, Dixon said the CPD currently has eight sworn officers including himself.

There are four vacancies.

According to Dixon, two of the officers who recently left did so in part because they were offered more money elsewhere.

Dixon said he wanted to get together with Town Manager Bill Ingersoll to see what can be done to offer a better “total package” as part of the recruitment/retention effort.

He described himself as frugal, and promised to spend the town’s money as if it was his own.

Dixon has 27 years of experience in Queen Anne’s and Caroline counties, working initially as a patrol deputy and finishing his career in supervisory, administrative and command positions.

He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Maryland Global Campus.

Dixon grew up in Bridgetown, and is a 1988 graduate of North Caroline High School.

John Dolgos, whose entire 30-year career in law enforcement was with the CPD, had to retire due to the state pension system.

Chestertown began advertising for a new chief in early spring with an application deadline of May 10.

Ingersoll and council members Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland vetted the pool of 38 applicants to three finalists.

In a closed-door special meeting Sept. 13, the mayor and council met with the finalists separately.

Then, on their own, they ranked the finalists.

Ingersoll announced at the Sept. 20 council meeting that there was enough of an overlap in the rankings that a clear front-runner had emerged.

Dixon was hired Sept. 23, according to the news release.

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