A cross section of St. Petersburg, Fla., residents interviewed as part of a background check on Annapolis' new police chief gave Harold Robbins high marks for his professional skills and personal demeanor.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police talked to eight people in St. Petersburg, where Robbins, 43, worked as a deputy chief until recently. He starts in Annapolis tomorrow.
The city released its background check of Robbins Friday, in response to two black aldermen, Samuel Gilmer, D-Ward 3, and Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, who wanted to know how Robbins had fared with the black community in St.
Petersburg. The two abstained when the City Council approved Robbins last month.
The eight people interviewed were chosen to measure how Robbins worked with different groups in that community, said City Administrator Michael Mallinoff. They were: the executive director of the police officers' union, two black community leaders, a former St. Petersburg police chief and an assistant police chief, the police chief of a neighboring town, the St.
Petersburg personnel director and a St. Petersburg Times police reporter.
"All sources interviewed were exceptionally positive in their appraisals of the subject's skills and ability," the report concluded. "Sources describe him as loyal, faithful, responsible, honest and hard-working."
All except for one. Gilmer called Garnelle Jenkins, president of the St.
Petersburg NAACP, before the council's vote last month and didn't like what she had to say about Robbins. So after the vote, the police chiefs' association called Jenkins, too.
In the report, Jenkins said that Robbins had never recommended a black officer for promotion. Mallinoff said that wasn't true, and said Robbins had recommended black officers for promotion. Jenkins also said that Robbins didn't work well with the black community, but she gave no specifics.
Gilmer hasn't seen the background report, but said he plans to drop the issue. "Let's give the man a chance and see how he reacts," Gilmer said.
Mallinoff, who visited St. Petersburg before Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins decided on Robbins, said it's just a matter of time until the new chief proves himself.
"He really had the admiration and respect of the officers there," Mallinoff said. "He was a cop's cop there. Chief Schmitt was not a communicator. This guy is. I think this man will be universally liked and respected. He's a very well-rounded guy and we're extraordinarily lucky to have him."
Former chief John C. Schmitt, 60, retired in May amid charges of mismanagement and racism, which Schmitt denied.
More than 130 candidates applied for the job in a two-month national search.