Today the Baltimore County Police Department celebrates its 140th anniversary. We are sharing the text of Police Chief Jim Johnson's message to the Department.

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To All Department Members:

Today marks the 140th anniversary of the Baltimore County Police Department, and, like all such milestones, this one is an opportunity to reflect on where we have been and what the future holds.

The world in which our department was conceived is a distant, foreign place.

On April 11, 1874 - the day the Maryland legislature established the Baltimore County Police Department -- Ulysses S. Grant was president. Reconstruction was still in progress. Children toiled in factories; Jesse James held up trains.

Alexander Graham Bell was still working on the telephone, and the horse was the prevailing mode of transportation. In fact, the law creating BCoPD stipulated that mounted officers had to provide their own horses, equipment and forage. Mounted police would be paid $3 a day; foot patrol officers, $2.

The societal changes, the technological advancements in the nearly 1 ½ centuries since then - and particularly in the last 30 years - boggle the mind. Today, ours is an increasingly diverse population that recognizes the right of all people to safety and equality under the law. Information spreads in the amount of time it takes to punch a few buttons. Most of us live in suburbs, not on the farm. Physically, at least, life is much easier for most people than it was in 1874.

But the evolution to a modern, 21st century society has brought its hardships, hardships it is our job as members of this department to face.

 Intractable economic difficulties have created an environment in which a destructive minority sees crime as a viable way of life. Gun violence remains a plague and a subject about which Americans continue to debate and disagree. Drugs continue to destroy lives. Schools, while still among the safest places children can be, feel more vulnerable than they once were. The rapid development of information technology creates new opportunities to seduce and exploit.

The evidence shows that this Department has risen to the challenge of the times. Serious crime in virtually every category has fallen. When problems arise - as they inevitably do - we draw on our experience, commitment and resources to deal with them. Our population continues to grow, a testament to the fact that people believe they can find security and prosperity here. We enjoy the good will of the people we serve.

The world, and this agency, will be different still when, come 2024, we celebrate our 150th anniversary. But in all the ways that count, this Department will be same as it is now and as it was the day it was born: Sworn to protect our people, loyal to the idea of a just, secure society.

Thank you for your contributions to our department's history -- past, present and future.