Police Chief Frazier's Agenda

February 09, 1994

Thomas C. Frazier's first move on his first morning as Baltimore's new police commissioner was to issue an order transferring the internal investigation division into his office. Moments later, he addressed 36 new police officers, telling them to be tough, understanding -- and careful.

"We have a huge challenge," he said. "We have a challenge of drugs, we have a challenge of violence, we have a challenge of hopelessness."

"We can do it," he added. "We have a strategy, we have a plan."

The Frazier plan -- according to what he has outlined in recent weeks -- consists of redeploying many of the city's 2,960 officers. No longer will all the shifts have equal strength; from now on, more personnel will be devoted to deal with high-crime periods in a "demand-driven model."

Beyond sweeping redeployment, Mr. Frazier wants to beef up the department's investigatory functions.

He wants to revive a functioning sex crimes unit. He views most shootings as "unsuccessful homicides" and wants the police to go aggressively after guns. Eradicating the countless open-air drug markets throughout the city is a priority.

"We have to take the corners back, to take the neighborhoods back and hold them," he told the graduating Police Academy class yesterday.

As part of that strategy, he wants to put new emphasis on covert investigations. Another priority is to re-establish an intelligence unit responsible directly to him. And he wants to revamp the city's 911 telephone system, where calls -- astonishing as it seems -- have been handled not according to priority but in the order they were received.

Police training is likely to be reorganized as well. Mr. Frazier is toying with the idea of dividing the 26-week Police Academy course into 16-weeks of classroom work, followed by 10 weeks of theoretical lessons mixed with field training. As for himself, "you'll see me in uniform far more than you will see me in coat and tie," he pledges.

Mr. Frazier faces a tough job in turning around a badly demoralized and mismanaged police department, as The Sun's David Simon made clear in a searing four-part series on the department's woes that concludes today. His early actions suggest Mr. Frazier will approach this challenge in a methodical and intelligent manner. It's good to have a hands-on commissioner in Baltimore City again.

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