Black Officers Angry At Degraff

March 22, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

The Annapolis Police Department's Black Officers Association has called on Alderman Theresa DeGraff to apologize for saying that none of the department's black officers was qualified to become deputy chief.

"Alderman DeGraff's comments were both insensitive and racist," the association said in a statement released yesterday. "Her language and comments were inflammatory and divisive."

The association, however, didn't get the apology its members werelooking for.

"I think the black officers should be ashamed of themselves," said DeGraff, R-Ward 7, chairwoman of the council's public safety committee. "We hired a high-quality black deputy chief who will serve the taxpayers well. I'm not going to be bullied by the black officers. Every time they don't get the appointment they want, they cry racism. They've taken all the comments and twisted them out of context."

Last week, Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins hired Baltimore police Col. Joseph S. Johnson as deputy chief, fulfilling a promise made to the black community a year ago.

Hopkins' top choice for the jobhad been Capt. Norman Randall, a 28-year veteran of the department. But Hopkins left the decision up to Police Chief Harold Robbins, who choseJohnson.

DeGraff had opposed hiring a deputy chief until Johnson was chosen. Last week, she said she had "heartburn" over hiring a deputy chief because no one in the department was qualified or had a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

The BOA, headed by Narcotics Officer George Kelley, said DeGraff was guilty of holding a double standard because she didn't protest when Capt. Cassin Gittings was namedacting chief last year. Gittings doesn't have a bachelor's degree, the press release said, yet served well as acting chief.

DeGraff, however, said she wanted Capt. John Wright, who has a law degree, named acting chief.

The black officers asked DeGraff for a meeting to discuss their concerns. "We are putting her on notice that racist public comments that she makes concerning our members, membership or community will not be tolerated," the statement said.

DeGraff said she would meet with any officer in the department.

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