Baltimore's school police chief loses his position Amprey, Burgan have differed on style

June 03, 1993|By Joe Nawrozki and Michael James | Joe Nawrozki and Michael James,Staff Writers Staff writer David Michael Ettlin contributed to this article.

Larry Burgan, chief of Baltimore's school police for 18 1/2 years, was told yesterday that he will be removed from his post at the end of the month, sources told The Sun late last night.

Mr. Burgan was told he "would be relieved of his duties" by Superintendent Walter G. Amprey, who has previously said a new style of policing is needed in the schools.

School officials said Mr. Burgan was told he will be transferred to an as-yet undisclosed assignment in the school system, one which will allow him to keep his $59,500-a-year salary plus benefits.

The decision to remove Mr. Burgan as head of the school police force, which numbered 85 officers as of March, was not unexpected.

The two men have differed before. Late last year, Dr. Amprey asked Mr. Burgan to resign, but he refused, one official said.

Reached late last night at his home, Mr. Burgan's only comment was, "I don't have anything to say right now. I probably will later."

Dr. Amprey could not be reached. Nat Harrington, a city school spokesman, said he was unaware that a decision had been made concerning the chief, although he noted that he happened to see Mr. Burgan and Dr. Amprey going into the superintendent's office for a meeting late yesterday morning.

A successor has not been named, school officials said.

Mr. Burgan has presided over school security during a period of increasing violence, both on and off school property. He has said he believes that what happens in the schools is a carry-over from the arguments, drugs and availability of weapons outside.

Dr. Amprey has, in the past, voiced frustration with some policies of the school police, questioning whether so many arrests had to be made and whether school policing was being done in the best way.

"We arrest far too many kids for reasons that should not be reasons of arrest," Dr. Amprey said in an interview last year. "We have got to do a better job of identifying the kinds of overt behavior of youngsters and how to defuse it."

The superintendent has made school safety one of his three top priorities this year, along with increased attendance and academic performance.

Mr. Burgan went to work for the city school system as a security officer in October 1967, was promoted to security supervisor in February 1969, then made assistant chief of security in July 1973. He became the security chief in November 1974.

The fiscal 1993 operating budget for school police was $3.34 million, with salaries appropriated for 124 full-time positions including secretaries and other assistants.

So far this year, the crime picture in the system's 178 schools has been mixed. Among the trends in the first semester of the year are a slight increase in gun incidents (28 compared to 25 in the first four months of the 1992 school year) and more robberies than last year.

A total of 83 instances of deadly weapons possession were recorded, up from 66 in the same period a year before. But assaults with a deadly weapon decreased, from 30 incidents in 1992 to 24 in 1993.

In 1986, amid a clamor over guns in schools, Mr. Burgan declared at a news conference that "law enforcement alone is not the answer." Announcing the start of an anti-gun campaign, including media ads and a hot line for reporting weapons in schools, Mr. Burgan said, "We need full citizen participation.

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