New commander of homicide unit targets morale

April 05, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

Capt. Howard F. Parrott, a 37-year Baltimore police veteran, took over yesterday as commander of the city homicide unit and said he hopes to bolster morale and to improve office conditions for the detectives.

The 59-year-old former head of the vice and fugitive squads said he spent much of his first day familiarizing himself with the 48-member unit -- and its problems.

"There's no doubt there's some disappointment up here due to the new rotation policy. Some of the guys feel like they're getting shafted. But this is a policy like any other. They're going to have to adapt to it," Captain Parrott said.

The rotation policy, created by new city Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, will force officers in specialized units to change posts every few years regardless of performance. Some homicide investigators say the policy is unfair and will remove the best talent from the unit.

Captain Parrott said that although some detectives may be upset with the policy, "it's not going to affect how they're doing their work. This is a dedicated group up here. They're going to do their jobs and do them well. We just have to take this one day at a time."

The captain most recently was assigned as second in command at the Southern District, where he had worked for more than a decade. During the 1970s while he was a lieutenant, he headed the vice and fugitive squads and also served as assistant to the chief of the Criminal Investigation Division.

He has bachelor's and master's degrees in law enforcement and criminal justice from the University of Baltimore.

One of the priorities he said he plans to address is the need to improve the working conditions on the sixth-floor homicide unit at city police headquarters.

"We're overcrowded and packed like sardines in here. We have no room for witnesses without them gawking at the officers while they're doing their job," Captain Parrott said. "That's got to change."

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