Mullen leaving as No. 2 city police official to head Hopkins security at Homewood

June 19, 1992|By David Simon | David Simon,Staff Writer

After managing the day-to-day operations of the Baltimore Police Department for more than a decade, Deputy Commissioner Ronald J. Mullen is retiring from the department's No. 2 post to take charge of the Johns Hopkins University police department.

University officials confirmed that they have reached an agreement with Mr. Mullen, who will leave the Baltimore department in mid-July to head the 40-member Hopkins department on the Homewood campus.

The departure of Mr. Mullen, who has controlled the department's patrol and criminal investigation divisions for the last four police commissioners, marks a number of trends in the Baltimore department, which is undergoing a major reorganization.

Police spokesman Sam Ringgold said yesterday that Mr. Mullen would not be making any comment to the press regarding his departure.

A Baltimore officer since 1960, Mr. Mullen is one of the last proteges of the late Donald Pomerleau, who arrived in 1966 to recast a corrupt and inefficient department in his own image and lead that department into the early 1980s.

A cautious, taciturn man who always managed a low profile, Mr. Mullen rose through the ranks to serve as Commissioner Pomerleau's right-hand man during that era, inheriting day-to-day control of most essential police functions even after Mr. Pomerleau's retirement.

As a result, it was often Mr. Mullen, rather than the police commissioners, who shaped the daily operations and policies of the department.

Mr. Mullen's administrative safeguards and unswerving caution kept the force generally free of corruption and scandal, but critics argued that those qualities also inhibited aggressive police work.

"No matter what you did or didn't do, you knew you'd eventually have to answer to R.J.," said one city police commander, who asked not to be

identified. "He's the guy in this department that has his hand on everything."

But after arriving at the department's No. 2 spot, Mr. Mullen was repeatedly denied the office of police commissioner as candidates leapfrogged over him.

Mr. Mullen is white and the appointment of three successive black candidates to that sensitive municipal post led many in the department to speculate that race was Mr. Mullen's undoing.

That speculation resurfaced last month, when Eugene Tanzymore, a black veteran of the force, was promoted from chief of patrol to deputy commissioner and given command of the patrol division -- the bulk of the department's street force.

Deputy Tanzymore's promotion left Mr. Mullen with little more than the criminal investigation, lab unit and special operations divisions, and rumors of his departure began to circulate thereafter.

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