Panel named to find new police boss

August 19, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

A high-profile panel led by a man who played a key role in the postmortem on the Los Angeles riots will conduct a national search for a new Baltimore police commissioner.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke appointed the eight-member committee yesterday to come up with a list of candidates to replace Edward V. Woods, the embattled police commissioner who unexpectedly announced his retirement two weeks ago.

Hubert Williams, the former chief of the Newark, N.J., police department, will head the search committee. Mr. Williams, the president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, spent five months helping to investigate the April 1992 riots that devastated Los Angeles, and he helped select Willie L. Williams of Philadelphia as the new Los Angeles police chief.

Other panel members are: the Rev. William Calhoun, president of the city's Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance; Jean Booker, vice president of Parents Against Drugs; Dr. Neal Friedlander, chairman of the Police Advisory Council; Decatur Miller, a Baltimore attorney; Amy Macht, president of the Morton and Sophia Macht Foundation; Jesse Hoskins, the city's personnel director; and Lynnette Young, the mayor's chief of staff.

Mayor Schmoke, who will pick the next police commissioner, asked that the list of candidates be limited to five. He hopes to have a successor in place by the time Commissioner Woods' retirement takes effect Nov. 1, but he did not set a deadline.

Two weeks after Commissioner Woods' surprise announcement, the mayor still has offered few details of what he wants in a police chief. Mr. Coleman said more details about the search process would be disclosed once the committee meets for the first time.

Like the mayor, Mr. Miller, chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said he strongly supports the concept of community policing.

"I think it would be good if the new commissioner were a modern policeman," Mr. Miller said. "It would be wonderful if this person were a morale builder and a good communicator with all segments of our city."

City Councilman Lawrence A. Bell, D-4th, a critic of Mr. Woods, said he hopes the new commissioner will come from outside the 2,900-member department. In early January, Mr. Bell called for Mr. Woods' resignation in six months if the city's crime rate didn't drop. Mr. Bell's criticized the commissioner because the city recorded 335 slayings last year -- its highest toll ever.

"I think that it's very important for the mayor to have maximum community input into this search process," Mr. Bell said. "Whoever is selected has to be someone with good skills in dealing with the community. That's extremely important."

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