Finalists to be named for top city police job

December 08, 1993|By Eric Siegel and Jim Haner | Eric Siegel and Jim Haner,Staff Writers

A police chief, the head of a police academy and two top-ranked deputies are expected to be named today by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke as finalists for the job of Baltimore police commissioner, sources said yesterday.

All are former beat officers who rose through the ranks. None is from the Baltimore Police Department.

The announcement will mark the end of a four-month search for candidates by a special committee that passed over some of the nation's most seasoned police administrators to court a new cadre of up-and-coming managers. The commissioner's salary was advertised at $93,000 annually, but the mayor says the figure is negotiable.

By selecting four finalists from outside the department, the committee eliminated eight internal candidates, guaranteeing that Baltimore will have its first new chief from outside the city in almost 30 years.

In a move that may quell jitters within the department -- which has been plagued in recent years by claims of racial favoritism in hiring and promotions -- the mayor's committee chose two candidates who are black and two who are white.

Also, at a time when the department is experiencing a rash of complaints about corruption in several districts, all of the candidates have served as internal affairs investigators -- possibly signaling an attempt by the mayor to clean up the ranks.

The candidates:

* Tom Frazier, 48, a 27-year veteran and deputy chief of operations for the 1,170-member San Jose (Calif.) Police Department. A protege of former Chief Joseph McNamara, Mr. Frazier served in key divisions throughout the department -- including narcotics, internal affairs, criminal investigations and research and planning -- before rising to the executive offices.

He helped design the department's community policing plan and has overseen its implementation since 1991. The Vietnam veteran and father of three has been a finalist for police chief in Dallas, Seattle, Tallahassee, Fla., and Madison, Wis.

"If Baltimore hires him, your city's gain will be our loss," said Michael Fehr, union president of the San Jose Police Officers Association. "He's tough as nails, and he's not afraid to lay down the law when necessary. Cops in this department either love him or hate him, but everybody respects him."

* Joe Leake, 54, a 32-year veteran of the New York City Police Department and commander of the Manhattan North district overseeing 3,000 officers in 11 precincts.

He graduated at the top of his academy class in 1962 before becoming a patrol officer in the district he now commands.

He rose through the ranks to homicide detective, hate crimes investigator, head of the cadet corps, second-in-command of Staten Island and deputy chief of the Bronx. He also served on the department's Ethics Board and as head of security for the 1992 Democratic National Convention in Madison Square Garden.

In 1992, he became Commander of Manhattan North, where his community policing plan has included service on a neighborhood development board.

"I have had the good fortune to know Chief Leake personally for over a year now," said Joseph Wright, executive director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. "And I can tell you he's one of the finest police administrators I know."

* Jerry Alton Oliver, 46, police chief of the 370-officer Pasadena (Calif.) Police Department since 1991 and a 20-year veteran of the Phoenix (Ariz.) Police Department, where he rose through the ranks to become assistant chief for investigations.

A Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1968,

the father of two grown children grew up in the housing projects of Phoenix. Mr. Oliver has said that he regards law enforcement as part of human service.

He spent a year in 1990 as head of the Memphis, Tenn.-based Office of Drug Policy, and his appointment in Pasadena marked the first time in half a century that the city had gone outside its ranks to select a police chief.

A member of several organizations, including the NOBLE and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Mr. Oliver instituted Pasadena's program of community policing.

He said in a newspaper interview last year that taking over the police department was "like a law of physics -- to overcome the inertia of an organization, you need a certain kind of force."

Dennis Diaz, head of Pasadena's police union, could not be reached for comment last night.

* Mack M. Vines, 55, director since 1990 of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Criminal Justice Institute, which trains police recruits and officers in the St. Petersburg area, and former chief of police of Dallas; St. Petersburg; Cape Coral, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C.

Mr. Vines served in the mid-1980s as the first permanent director of the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance, which funnels money to state and local governments for law enforcement programs and instituted a community-based policing program in Dallas during the late 1980s.

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