GREENSBORO — The Town of Greensboro is seeking a new police chief, to replace the previous chief, Michael Petyo, who stepped down as of Thursday, Jan. 31, the town said in a news release Monday, Feb. 4.
Sgt. Glenn Ray will serve as acting police chief until Petyo’s permanent successor is named.
Petyo, who came to Greensboro’s department from that of Wyoming, Del., in August 2017, returned to Delaware, to join the Camden Police Department as deputy chief.
In the news release, Town Manager Jeannette DeLude thanked Petyo for his service and credited a significant drop in crime to his efforts.
“Chief Petyo made a tangible impact on our community by helping to lower crime, particularly in the downtown area,” said DeLude. “Please join me in wishing him the best in this next phase of his law enforcement career.”
Greensboro and its police department have been embroiled in controversy after the death of town resident Anton Black, 19, in September 2018 while in police custody.
Though Petyo did not respond to the 911 call that led to Black’s death, he was involved in the hiring six months earlier of the Greensboro officer who did respond, Thomas Webster IV.
Webster is a former Dover, Del., police officer who resigned from that city’s department in 2016, after a dash camera in 2013 recorded footage of him kicking an unarmed suspect in the jaw. Webster was hired in Greensboro amid protests from concerned citizens.
After Black’s death in September, activists called for Webster to be placed on leave with pay during the investigation, and for Webster’s body cam footage from the evening of the incident to be released to the public.
Both of those requests were eventually fulfilled in January.
In January, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner also released its full autopsy on Black, which called his death accidental, a cardiac arrest caused by a congenital heart defect. It noted the stress of the struggle with police likely contributed.
Caroline County State’s Attorney Joe Riley said he would not seek an indictment against any of the officers involved in the incident.
Attorneys representing Black’s family said they will ask the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation. The American Civil Liberties Union also said it will call for an independent investigation by the Maryland State Prosecutor or the U.S. Department of Justice.
Petyo told a Baltimore Sun reporter the controversy surrounding Black’s death was not related to his decision to leave the town’s police force.
The town is advertising the open police chief position through local media and on its website, greensboromd.org. A panel of five people, including at least three police chiefs from other departments, will interview qualified candidates and give its recommendation to the town manager. Before being hired, the chosen candidate must undergo a full background check and psychiatric evaluation, and be cleared through the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission.
DeLude said the town government will inform residents once a new police chief has been selected.
Also in the news release, the town announced the hiring of its newest police officer, Cpl. Eric Lee, whose first day was Monday.
Lee was most recently with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office. Before that, he was with the Prince George’s County Police Department, where he was awarded a bronze medal of valor for helping fellow officers alert and escort residents of a senior citizen home to safety after an apartment fire in College Park in 2012.
Lee is already strongly engaged with the community, the news release said, having served as a youth football coach in Caroline County since 2012.