ROCKVILLE — For more than two years, the City of Rockville has been without a permanent police chief.
Ever since longtime City Police Chief Terry Treschuk retired in June of 2016, there has been a vacancy at the top of the department that took until this week to fill.
On Monday, Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton swore in Victor Brito as Rockville’s new police chief. Brito, the former Hagerstown police chief and 25-year veteran of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, told the crowd gathered inside the cramped City Hall that policing was about building trust with the community through personal relationships.
“Building relationships in police departments and in law enforcement is paramount – it’s the foundation of what we do,” Brito said in prepared remarks after he was sworn in as police chief. “As we develop new programs and implement technology and take on new initiatives, please know that the Rockville City Police Department must always regard our city’s residents as our highest priority.”
City Manager Robert DiSpirito, who hired Brito, said he did so in part because of Brito’s experience policing a diverse community in Washington, and how those skills could be transferred to policing the City’s diverse community.
“His law enforcement experience, leadership skills, and ability to relate to citizens and employees alike make him a strong choice to guide our police department forward in its commitment to community policing,” DiSpirito saud,
Among the key questions DiSpirito had for any potential candidates would be how they would or would not enforce immigration law. Last year, the City Council passed the Fostering Community Trust Act, which prohibits City employees from participating in enforcing federal immigration law.
While the City Police Department, under then acting-chief Bob Rappaport, already had a policy to not participate in immigration law enforcement, the ordinance codified the policy into City law.
After his swearing-in ceremony, Brito told the Sentinel the Rockville Police Department will continue the City’s policy of not enforcing immigration law.
“Our rule is quite simple: we treat everybody the same. Your immigration status does not matter to us; you know, it does not matter whatsoever,” Brito said.
Rockville’s policy differs slightly from County policy regarding the enforcement of immigration law. While County officials have emphasized repeatedly that the County, nor its police department, enforces immigration law, County police officers do honor detainers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement for people who have committed “major crimes.”
Prior to taking the job in Rockville, Brito served as the police chief for Hagerstown for two years, working his way up the ranks in D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department for five years.
Brito, who only resigned as Hagerstown’s police chief three days before he was sworn in as Rockville’s top law enforcement officer, said the first thing on his agenda as police chief is to get to know the officers and staff in the department.
During the ceremony Newton recognized outgoing acting-chief Bob Rappaport, a 30-year veteran of the Rockville Police Department who filled in for Terry Treschuk, and honored him with a plaque as a thank-you for his service to the City.