From Fairfax County, Virginia, to Montgomery Country, Maryland, from dealing with crime to being in charge of protecting a community, former Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas J. Manger has seen the ins and outs of police work throughout his 42 years in the force.
Manger came to the University of Maryland on April 2, 2019, to discuss his career and his experiences with a public policy and leadership class, and it was in his presentation that he addressed topics such as his motivations and career path, police brutality, and criminal justice policy.
"I wanted to save the world," Manger said of his desire to become a police officer. Manger, who grew up in Maryland, began his career by working in Fairfax County, Virginia, working cases such as the D.C. sniper case, and it was there that he began to rise in rank. He was eventually appointed Fairfax County Police Chief, and in 2004 became the Police Chief in Montgomery County, Maryland.
"If you can find a job that you love going to, boy, that's worth a lot," Manger said of his years in the force, "Every day I felt like I was trying to do good."
Manger continued to say that "doing good," however, is still a work in progress.
"The police department is not perfect, but I think we're heading in the right direction," Manger said when asked about issues such as police brutality and possible power complexes of those in the force.
The issue, Manger said, is about hiring the right people and looking for the right qualities in employees. He explained that what he looks for in his cops aren't the people who are going to use their badge as a method of intimidation, but are going to use it to make a difference. He spoke of "empathy and spirit for public service" and says he tries to build a sense of empathy in his cops through techniques such as having them visit he National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. before going on patrol, in order to understand the history of the relationship of police and African Americans.
During his conversation with the students, Manger also spoke of his relationship with legislators and his thoughts on policy.
When asked about policy regarding criminal justice and rehabilitation, Manger said that it's not about what people want, but what people need, and what people most often need is treatment.
"Criminalizing things like addiction, mental health, homelessness, and poverty: bad policy," Manger said, adding that he often considers three different aspects when determining his views on policy.
"How's this impact my cops, my community, and my elected officials?" Manger said, "If you can make all three of them happy, that's a good day."
After 42 years in the police force, Manger has climbed the rankings to the top, and reached the top of the ladder: retirement. While his years as an officer have seen him through two states and both criminal and political issues, he has continued climbing, trying to keep at his goal of "doing good," and of "saving the world."