City police spokesman says his job was cut 'without explanation' Commissioner won't confirm alleged dismissal of Dennis Hill

January 18, 1992|By Roger Twigg

Dennis S. Hill, director of public information for the Baltimore Police Department for the past 21 years, said yesterday that he has been told by Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods that his $64,000-a-year job has been abolished as part of the department's reorganization.

"No explanation" was offered, Mr. Hill said. "I don't know what words to use, other than I will be unemployed, probably, in about three to six weeks."

Commissioner Woods yesterday refused to confirm the dismissal of Mr. Hill, who said he is nine months away from being eligible for a pension.

"I did call him to my office as I have other officers [during the reassessment period]," Commissioner Woods said. "I discussed what we would be changing in the future. Changes will be made. At this time he is still our public information officer."

The commissioner declined to discuss the matter further.

Mr. Hill, an affable 50-year-old former radio newsman, has been the chief conduit to the public of news from the Baltimore Police Department since he was hired by former police Commissioner Donald D. Pomerleau on Aug. 30, 1970. He held his post under five police commissioners.

Mr. Hill said he believed that he was the longest-serving police public information officer in the country. Currently the office is staffed by Police Agent Arlene K. Jenkins and two other administrative aides.

They deal directly with the news media each day providing press releases, putting together a bimonthly departmental newsletter, answering inquiries from the public, advising on programs in the department and assisting in coordinating some of the agency's emergency responses.

The spokesman said he has no idea why the commissioner would want him to leave.

"I asked him if it was anything I had done. He said no, he wanted things done a different way by someone else," Mr. Hill said.

"I have given about all my adult life to this place," he added. "It certainly was not pleasant at age 50 to be called in and told that in about a minute and a half. It's not the end of the world though. I'll find something else to do."

Top city police officials have been overseeing a reassessment of the department's operations since last June as part of a five-year plan for community policing.

Commissioner Woods declined to discuss the reassessment plan or to specify what stage it had reached. Nor would he discuss how the public information office will function under reorganizational plans.

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