The Annapolis Police Department's Black Officers Association has called on Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins to "do the right thing" and hire a black deputy police chief, a promise the mayor made a year ago at an event attended by 300 people.
"When Mayor Hopkins made this commitment, many citizens felt that this would go a long way to healing and unifying the Annapolis Police Department," the association said in an unsigned statement released yesterday. "The community fully expects (as does the Black Officers Association) that Mayor Hopkins will keep his promise to the community. Promises made must be kept. It ensures that good faith will continue to exist on both sides."
The statement said that the United Black Clergy, the Black Political Forum, Blacks in Government and the Committee for a Drug Free Annapolis supported the BOA's position.
Hopkins said yesterday he wouldn't comment on the statement and said he had never heard from the BOA on the issue. "I don't respond to unsigned statements," Hopkins said. "I'm available any time they want to talk to me. It would be beneficial to both of us if they made an appointment to come in and talk."
In an interview last week, Hopkins said he still supported hiring a black deputy chief, but wasn't sure if the city could afford it this year. "We don't know for sure everything that will be in the budget," Hopkins said. "We're having extreme revenue problems, and it's tough to know how much money we're going to have. I've always been a supporter of a deputy chief. I'm not copping out."
In its statement, the BOA said it would not comment on the deputy chief again until Hopkins sends his proposed budget to the City Council, which the mayormay do next month. Police Chief Harold Robbins did not include the position in the proposed budget he sent to Hopkins.
BOA members could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Alderman Theresa DeGraff,R-Ward 7, chairwoman of the council's public safety committee, said the city cannot afford to hire a deputy chief.
"If we're going to sink that kind of money into a deputy chief so that the black officers can have a black deputy chief, it's ludicrous," she said. "I think the money would be better spent on training, which will benefit all officers -- blacks, women and Hispanics. They're just putting pressureon Al to appoint a deputy chief. I would think they would rather focus on improving the whole department, rather than focusing on one deputy chief position."
The BOA suggested saving money by converting a captain's position to the deputy chief's position. Hopkins has considered appointing Capt. Norman Randall, who is black, to the deputy chief's position.
DeGraff opposes converting a captain's position and said there were white officers who also would qualify for the deputy chief's position.
In its statement, the BOA also said it hoped black officers would have a "new partnership" with Robbins, who came to Annapolis from St. Petersburg, Fla., in October. The association also said it hoped the department would meet the terms of a 1984 courtanti-discrimination agreement this year, so a fifth extension of theconsent decree would not be necessary.