The Baltimore public school superintendent said yesterday that his removal of the school security chief could be part of a larger restructuring of the system's police force and a move toward more counseling and preventive measures rather than arrest and punishment of students.
"It was a difficult step for me to take, removing Larry [Burgan, the chief] from his assignment, but we have to look in a new direction," Dr. Walter G. Amprey said. "I'm considering bringing in some security experts, perhaps revamping our security office."
"The old concept of children fearing police is just that -- old," Dr. Amprey said.
"The things we did have not been working," he added without elaboration.
The superintendent said that on Wednesday he told Mr. Burgan, who has been chief of school police for 18 1/2 years, that he was reassigning him.
Dr. Amprey said that Mr. Burgan, who earns an annual salary of $59,500 plus benefits, has not been assigned new duties.
Mr. Burgan, who has refused to comment on the superintendent's decision to remove him, will serve his last official day as security chief June 30.
"I have not given any thought to a successor," Dr. Amprey said.
But a school system official, who requested anonymity, said there's already been discussion of some plans under which the positions of chief, assistant chief and field supervisors would be abolished and a director and regional managers would be appointed to oversee the school police force, which numbered 85 officers as of March.
The new director would serve at the pleasure of the superintendent, the official said. The current position of chief is protected by the Civil Service Commission.
The decision to replace Mr. Burgan was not unexpected. The superintendent and the police chief have differed before.
Late last year, Dr. Amprey asked Mr. Burgan to step aside but he refused, the official said.
Dr. Amprey has, in the past, voiced frustration with some policies of the school police and questioned whether so many arrests had to be made and whether school policing was being done in the best way.
Mr. Burgan has presided over school security during a period of mounting violence, both on of off school property.
He has said he believes the violence that occurs in schools is a carry-over from arguments, disagreements over drugs and the availability of weapons on the street.