Capt. Sean Gagen has been in charge of the Bethesda police district for less than a week, but he’s already heard the woes of commuters navigating construction sites and restaurant corridors.
As the new commander of the county police department’s 2nd District, traffic will be one of Gagen’s focuses moving forward, along with thefts from vehicles and pharmacy robberies.
Gagen was promoted to lead the 140-officer Bethesda unit on Sunday after Capt. Paul Liquorie was promoted to an assistant chief position.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to come down here and work in the 2nd District,” Gagen said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to have my first command being down here especially with the amount of building that’s going on, and development, it’s a great time for us to be involved.”
In addition to Bethesda, the district covers Potomac and Chevy Chase in lower Montgomery County.
The leadership changes were the result of a reshuffling among the police department’s senior executive team, interim police chief Marcus Jones said.
Former interim chief Russ Hamill took over for former Police Chief J. Thomas Manger in April, only to retire in June. Jones, a former assistant chief, stepped into the role after Hamill’s departure. Liquorie was then promoted.
Jones said Gagen’s assignment is permanent, though Liquorie’s role is temporary. Chiefs can assign commanders, but chief positions have to be appointed with approval of the County Council. Once a permanent police chief is selected, he will appoint someone to Liquorie’s current role.
If Liquorie is not selected to retain his position, he will be reassigned, not returning to the Bethesda commander position, Jones said.
Gagan, 46, of Damascus, most recently served as director of the department’s Special Victims Investigation Division beginning in March 2018. He’s held a variety of roles in the department, including as a patrol sergeant in the 4th District, member of the Criminal Investigations Division and Major Crimes Division.
Gagen is eager to begin working with the community, and right now he’s “just trying to get the lay of the land.”
From his time in the Major Crimes Division, Gagen is well aware of the issue of thefts from vehicles, as well as the pharmacy robberies common in the county and neighboring Washington, D.C. The area has had two such instances in the past three months, one in Chevy Chase and the other in Bethesda.
And of course, crowded streets are at the top of Gagen’s list as well.
“Traffic is one of the primary concerns that I’ve been told is always going to be first and foremost, especially with the development and building that’s going on in downtown Bethesda,” Gagen said.
Charlie Wright can be reached at email@example.com