Lt. Col. Thomas H. Carr, a veteran Maryland State Police officer with a varied law enforcement and administrative background, has emerged as the early favorite to succeed Superintendent Elmer H. Tippett Jr.
Colonel Carr, 43, heads the State Police Bureau of Drug Enforcement and was at Gov. William Donald Schaefer's side Monday during a news conference about the dangers of a synthetic narcotic that has caused 23 fatal overdoses in Maryland since late January.
Besides his other experience investigating organized-crime groups, white-collar criminals and political corruption, Colonel Carr apparently has the backing of Bishop L. Robinson, secretary of public safety and correctional services.
"Carr has several things going for him, not to mention some political support in Annapolis," said one agency source. "He has internal support within the state police, and he gets high marks as a crime fighter."
Colonel Tippett resigned from the $77,336-a-year superintendent's job March 24 after growing discontent within the Schaefer administration over his performance and declining morale among troopers. His resignation is effective June 1.
That same day, Governor Schaefer said he wanted a "younger person to move up" to replace Colonel Tippett, but he indicated that he also wanted to promote someone from within the state police.
Colonel Carr declined to comment on the speculation yesterday.
Sources familiar with the situation say other candidates for Colonel Tippett's job are Capt. Larry W. Tolliver, commander of the executive protection unit in the governor's office; Richard A. Lanham Sr., state commissioner of correction; Baltimore Police Department Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Zotos, who retires April 16; and Joseph P. Newman, who soon retires as a colonel from the city department to become a deputy secretary with the state Department of Juvenile Services.
Mr. Lanham has expressed no interest in the job, a spokesman for the commissioner said.
Captain Tolliver, while viewed as dedicated to the governor, does not possess a variety of managerial and policing skills, a state police source said.
Deputy Commissioner Zotos, who headed then-Mayor Schaefer's police bodyguard detail in Baltimore, recently told a close associate he wouldn't feel comfortable stepping in as an outsider to direct an agency with budget and morale problems.
Colonel Newman, who directed some of the city department's most sensitive investigations, has privately expressed an interest in the job but also looks forward to working with juveniles.
Sgt. Pat Drum, president of the 2,053-member Maryland Troopers Association, said yesterday that "whoever gets the job will have a lot of work ahead of him. The legislature wants to redefine the state police into more of a crime-fighting agency."
He said talk among the membership indicates "they prefer someone from within the agency."
Frank Traynor, the governor's press secretary, said Mr. Robinson has been too involved with the budget in the General Assembly to devote time to who will succeed Colonel Tippett. "We suspect that the secretary will put that issue on the fast track after the session and his budget concerns are addressed," Mr. Traynor said.
Sources in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and in Annapolis said Colonel Carr is considered the leading candidate for the superintendent's job because of his law enforcement back ground and the political support he enjoys in the capital.
That support runs from Mr. Robinson to a number of high-ranking members of the Schaefer administration. House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent, also is considered to be in Colonel Carr's corner, Annapolis sources said.
"The question about Carr -- about anybody who takes the job from within -- is, can he chop people's heads off?" said a high-ranking law enforcement source. "Considering the morale and discipline problems, the new person has to be perhaps a little heartless."
Lt. Col. Thomas H. Carr
Age 43, married; two children, ages 22 and 12. Native of Darlington in Harford County. Graduate of Bel Air High School and Towson State University, B.A. in history. Also has attended federally run schools in management and narcotics.
STATE POLICE CAREER
* Joined Maryland State Police in 1971, No. 1 in his academy class. Spent several years as a trooper, corporal and sergeant in Bel Air and Randallstown barracks. Was assigned in 1978 to North East barracks, then to internal-affairs unit that investigated alleged police wrongdoing.
* Was assigned in 1980 to the attorney general's office, where he supervised detectives who investigated white-collar crime.
* Was promoted to second lieutenant in 1984 and helped direct a team that investigated political corruption and violations of environmental laws.
* Was promoted in 1985 to first lieutenant and worked on organized crime, gambling and criminal intelligence.
* Was promoted in 1986 to captain and commanded a unit that analyzed statistics dealing with everyday street crime investigated by the state police. Was transferred a year later to command the narcotics division.
* Was promoted two grades to lieutenant colonel in July 1990 to head the new Bureau of Drug Enforcement.