Obituaries, Police/Fire

Baltimore County Police Department mourns passing of former police chief

TOWSON, MD—The Baltimore County Police Department has announced the passing of former Police Chief Cornelius J. “Neil” Behan.

For 17 years, Chief Behan oversaw the Baltimore County Police Department.

Behan once said, “My management style is to direct people toward an idea and let them develop the how-to. One, they can do it better than I can do it, and two, then they have ownership. The ownership’s got to happen, and if they’re just following orders it’s not going to happen, or only with great difficulty.”

During his tenure, Chief Behan moved the department forward to a more modern and progressive agency. Under Behan’s leadership, Citizen-Oriented Police Enforcement Units were introduced to the Baltimore County Police Department. The community-based approach, which was new to policing at the time, tapped members to fight fear and crime in the community. He was innovative and led with honor and integrity. Chief Behan was instrumental in creating both the Police Foundation and PAR (Police Assistance and Relief) Fund, which remain vital to the Department. Chief Behan was a strong leader and known internationally. He was active in both the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

“Today, I join our agency and the entire community as we mourn the death of Chief Behan,” said Police Chief Melissa Hyatt. “Chief Behan was a pioneer in the law enforcement profession and created a foundation for community policing, gun control, and many other programs that have since been adopted throughout the country. Chief Behan devoted his life to public safety and during his 17 years as Chief of Police, he touched countless lives in Baltimore County.”

Prior to joining the Baltimore County Police Department, Behan oversaw the field services bureau within the New York City Police Department; Behan held the third highest position within the NYPD. Behan announced he would be resigning from the NYPD to join the Baltimore County Police Department in July 1977. Two months later, Behan was sworn in as the Chief of Police in Baltimore County.

Behan’s passing comes one day after laying his wife of seventy years to rest. Behan was 97 years old.

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