TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Former Baltimore County Police Chief Cornelius “Neal” Behan has died at 97, the agency announced Monday. He oversaw the department for 17 years from 1977 to 1994.

The department said Behan died one day after laying his wife of 70 years to rest.

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Behan joined the BCPD in 1977 from the New York City Police, where he was third in command. The department said he introduced community-based policing by bringing Citizen-Oriented Police Enforcement Units to the department and was instrumental in creating both the Police Foundation and Police Assistance and Relief Fund.

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“Today, I join our agency and the entire community as we mourn the death of Chief Behan,” Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said. “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.”

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CBS Baltimore Staff