by Lisa Tome
More than 20 years ago, Chip Peterson came home to Cecil County.
Now Peterson, Rising Sun's Police Chief, wants to be the county's top cop. He announced last week that he is running for sheriff in 2014.
"Whether it's state, county, or a town, county law enforcement needs an experienced leader," said Peterson. "This county is like Harford County was 10 or 15 years ago. We need leadership or we will lose it to drugs or crime. I don't see experience in the (sheriff) candidates who have come forward."
Peterson is a retired Maryland State Trooper. He began his law enforcement career in January 1985. Before retiring in July 2007, he worked in numerous divisions tackling a variety of assignments. He worked in patrol, criminal investigation, was part of a community crime problem solving unit, dealt with quality of life issues, led an explorer post, coordinated the adopt a school program which had troopers volunteering in schools, was a public information officer, taught at the North East Drug Training Center, and more. "I experienced every facet of law enforcement," said Peterson. "I worked in urban settings, rural settings, and municipalities."
After retiring from the state, he was hired as a supervisor in Rising Sun. In 2008, he was named interim chief. He became chief of the department four years ago. He feels that leading the department has given him valuable experience which would help him as sheriff. "In Rising Sun, I learned to develop a rapport with elected officials and how to work together. I've had budgeting and grant writing experience and have been overseeing a lot of variables," he said.
He also said he feels an obligation to the county and that's why he decided to run.
"I am running because I care. When I moved to Cecil County 22 years ago from Baltimore City and Harford, I realized this was going to be home. The county is changing and we have to change. I don't want to see Cecil County destroyed because of crime. This is my home. This is the world my grandkids will grow up in," he said.
He said he has been asked to run sheriff. He said he spent about 10 months deciding whether he would fit the bill. "I've been tossing it around for a while. Citizens around the county started asking me to run. I had to sit back and evaluate what was best for me and best for the community and my family," he said. "It's not about the paycheck. It's about the community and keeping Cecil County this way and not letting it go."
Peterson said if elected, his goals are to reduce crime and tackle the tough issues including the drug problem and the "opportunists." "I'd like to see more prevention and cooperation. And I want to get the citizens involved," he said. "You can have 100 police officers but without the cooperation of 108,000 citizens, you will not solve crime."
He is active within the community and has held a number of leadership roles. He is currently president of Perryville Junior Football. "I love athletics. I am a strong believer in accountability. I believe that working with youth will make them better. It will help reduce crime and cultivate citizenship," he said. He is also past president of Cecil County Junior Football, past president of Perryville Junior Wrestling, Past vice president of Maryland Troopers Association Lodge 15, past president of the Blue Knights of Cecil County, and past president of the Fletchwood Community Association.
Peterson lives in Port Deposit. He is the father of two adult children and has a grandson.