Schmoke to launch national search for police chief Mayor has no lead candidate, hopes to have successor when Woods retires

August 06, 1993|By James Bock and Roger Twigg | James Bock and Roger Twigg,Staff Writers Staff writer Michael Fletcher contributed to this article.

For the first time in more than a quarter-century, Baltimore is about to embark on a national search for a police commissioner.

On the day after Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods' surprise retirement announcement, a spokesman for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said there is no leading candidate to succeed him. But police insiders widely expect the next commissioner to come from outside the 2,900-member department.

Mayor Schmoke, who will pick the next commissioner, has offered few details of how the search will be conducted or what he wants in a police chief. He says the commissioner must be a good manager who is committed to the concept of community policing and an "innovative thinker" who can "communicate his vision" to the public.

Mr. Schmoke said through a spokesman that he would disclose the search process early next week. He hopes to have a successor to Mr. Woods in place by the time the commissioner's retirement takes effect Nov. 1.

Clinton R. Coleman, the mayor's press secretary, said Mr. Schmoke has "no lead candidate in mind." He denied reports circulating in the Police Department that Reuben Greenberg, the flamboyant Charleston, S.C., chief, was a front-runner. Mr. Coleman said the mayor served recently on a panel with Chief Greenberg, but they "did not discuss this matter."

For his part, Chief Greenberg said through a spokesman that "no one has contacted him, and he's not interested. He says he's happy here."

A few other names surfaced yesterday in national police circles as potential candidates for Baltimore, as a majority-black city with an interest in developing its community policing program. They include:

* Perry L. Anderson Jr., 49, Cambridge, Mass., chief of police since May 1991. Mr. Anderson is a former Miami chief who worked his way up through the ranks. He is immediate past president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).

* Harold L. Johnson, 52, chief of the Mobile, Ala., force since February 1990. He is a former Detroit police official who later ran a small-city department in Michigan.

* Marty M. Tapscott, 56, Richmond, Va., chief since July 1989. A former assistant chief in Washington, D.C., he was chief in Flint, Mich., before taking the Richmond post. He is co-founder of the Organization of Black Metropolitan Police Officials.

Comprehensive process

But Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Washington-based Police Executive Research Forum, said it was premature to talk about candidates until Baltimore "identified community needs and the future of the department."

"Having done nationwide searches, you're talking about a comprehensive process that takes anywhere from four to six months if you do it right because you need to advertise and market properly," Mr. Wexler said. "It's a mistake to assume you just advertise and get good people to apply. You need to go after the kind of person Baltimore needs."

Mr. Wexler said all successful searches share several elements: a fair, open process with community participation; aggressive recruiting of candidates; and selection of a chief not by a committee but by the mayor, who is accountable to the voters.

"There's no one a mayor can select who is more important to the quality of life in his city than a police chief. They set tone, values and direction for a community," Mr. Wexler said.

By law, Mayor Schmoke has almost complete discretion in choosing a commissioner, who must be confirmed by the City Council. The City Charter demands only that the chief be a U.S. citizen 30 years or older, and have at least "five years' administrative experience that is sufficiently broad, responsible and technical" to prepare him to run the police department.

The law prescribes no selection process but says the mayor "may employ any recognized testing agency" to evaluate and make recommendations about candidates.

Mandate to clean house

Baltimore last mounted a national search in 1966 and tapped Donald D. Pomerleau, a consultant with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and a former Miami chief .

Police sources said yesterday that a Pomerleau-style appointment might be in store as the mayor tries to restore confidence in the department. Mr. Pomerleau arrived with a mandate to clean house, in the wake of a report that called the Baltimore department "deficient in nearly every phase of operation." Mr. Pomerleau, who was commissioner until 1981, is credited with modernizing the city force although critics charged he trampled on individual rights.

Lt. Leander S. "Bunny" Nevin, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, which represents most officers, said the FOP would not oppose having a police commissioner selected from outside the department. But he said several officials on the force, whom he declined to name, are capable of taking over.

"We need someone who thinks like a cop. The guy has got to like the job, make the people responsible for what they do and make them work," Lieutenant Nevin said.

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