Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III
Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III

January 9, 2021

This weekend brings two important dates. One is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, on January 9th. This day is observed every year. It is a time for the state to pause and reflect on the service provided and the sacrifices made by those who guarantee their freedoms and keep them safe. I join Governor Larry Hogan, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford and thousands of grateful citizens in thanking you for what you do each day to provide quality law enforcement services to the people of our state.

This appreciation day is not only for the police officers who are on the front line. The role of civilian employees is equally important. There is no monopoly on the best way to provide the most effective policing services so having the voices of both sworn and civilian team members is the only way we succeed in that critical mission. Each of you come to work each day with a shared goal of making a difference in the lives of those we serve. Fortunately for the people of our state, your impact is felt throughout our communities, on our highways, and even in our skies as you work to provide the best public safety services available anywhere.

You truly make a difference in the lives of others. Your work is appreciated. Despite some misguided and uninformed media coverage and social media comments, the vast majority of Maryland citizens are thankful you are on the job. They appreciate you. I join them in appreciation for your outstanding work on their behalf.

While Law Enforcement Appreciation Day is observed each year, the next important date only comes around once in a century. January 10th, 2021, marks the 100th Anniversary of the Maryland State Police.

It was on this day 100 years ago that 36 individuals began training for a law enforcement strategy that had never been tried in Maryland. The need for statewide law enforcement was evident and these individuals had been chosen to implement this new endeavor.

One month later, Governor Albert Ritchie presided over the graduation of the first members of the Maryland State Police. He charged them to “…protect the men, women and property of the State of Maryland and to preserve law and order.” I am proud to say we have done so ever since.

Those original officers immediately engaged in fulfilling the mission they had been given. Now, a century later, we are honored to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and celebrate the privilege we have of being members of the Maryland State Police.

Every hour of every day, for the past 100 years, the men and women of this Department have served the people of Maryland with a dedication to duty and a commitment to service that is second to none. The stories of their selfless service, their courage and their sacrifice would fill volumes. Through the years, thousands of sworn employees who have worn this uniform and thousands who have served in civilian support have built a legacy of excellence in public safety services.

I cannot convey how proud I am to lead the state troopers, deputy state fire marshals and civilian employees who make up what I believe is the finest police department in the nation. I joined the Maryland State Police just weeks after graduating from high school. This Department has provided me with public service career opportunities and experiences I never imagined. I am deeply grateful to those I have served with through the years and those who came before me.

Now, 100 years later, we look back on all that has changed in the Maryland State Police. Yes, much has changed. There are two things that have not changed, nor will they change in the next 100 years. First, our mission remains the same. We have a statewide mission to serve and protect the citizens of Maryland.

Second, the dedication to duty of the men and women who wear this uniform and serve in civilian support has not changed. You understand the ‘why’ of what you do. You understand what could happen if you fail to do your job. You understand you are public servants who must be committed to selfless service to others. You understand that although everyone else may be running away from the threat, your job is to confront the danger, provide the help and, if necessary, save a life, even if no one else is there to help you.

Our anniversary observances this coming year will be a tribute to all those who have served in the Maryland State Police during the past 100 years. Our highest tribute and honor will remain with those state troopers and a deputy state fire marshal who lost their lives in the line of duty and two state troopers drafted into service and killed in action during World War II. They are constant reminders that freedom and safety are not free. Too many have paid too high a price and we will never forget their sacrifice.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered our plans for our centennial year. In no way can anniversary messages, videos and historic photos replace being together and celebrating. Anyone who has worked in the Maryland State Police knows it is the people who make this Department what it is. It is the people committed to serving and protecting others who forge friendships that last a lifetime, even long after retirement.

To all our retirees and alumni, I extend my sincerest appreciation for your service and the standards you set. We are a great Department today only because of you.

To each one of you who continues to serve, I thank you for what you faithfully do each day to save lives and protect property. It is your courage, initiative, integrity, honesty and professionalism that maintains our reputation and continues to make this Department one of the most respected and replicated in the country.

Despite the pandemic, we continue to do our jobs. New troopers continue to be recruited and trained. Evidence continues to be analyzed. Patrol vehicles continue to be serviced. Helicopters are still being flown by their lifesaving crews. Crimes continue to be investigated, criminals arrested and traffic violators cited.

Two of our planned objectives for this year ahead are quite symbolic of our centennial. We are opening a museum to honor our past and a new barrack to symbolize our future.

Thanks to the Maryland State Police Alumni Association and the continuing work of many of our employees, the new Maryland State Police museum is expected to be operational this year. A refurbished building at Headquarters will house our history and provide people the opportunity to learn about who we are and what we do.

This spring, we will open the new Cumberland Barrack. This new facility will be unlike any we have ever had. I believe it is a symbol of our commitment to the next 100 years of the Maryland State Police.

The Maryland State Police family is proud of these past 100 years of service to the people of our state. Each of you reading this message has had or currently has a part in writing our history. Thank you for your part in building this Department we love. Together, while daring greatly, we look forward to the history we will write in the years ahead as we continue to uphold the reputation and tradition of “Maryland’s finest.”

Be safe.

Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III
Maryland Department of State Police

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