Police laughing after talk show host blasts 'order' to attend Schmoke rally

April 30, 1994|By Peter Hermann and Jim Haner | Peter Hermann and Jim Haner,Sun Staff Writers

Breaking the boredom of a foggy Friday afternoon, blustery radio talk-show host Les Kinsolving blasted Baltimore police for a memo purportedly "ordering" commanders to attend a political rally staged by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke -- drawing laughter at police headquarters.

Mr. Kinsolving demanded on WCBM-AM that Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier explain why top police commanders were forced to attend the mayor's gathering Thursday at City Hall Plaza to announce his support of Parris Glendening for governor.

Foul, cried Mr. Kinsolving.

Wrong, shouted the police.

Police commanders said they regarded the memo as nothing more than an invitation to another City Hall function. Many said they ignored it in order to attend The Baltimore Sun Policeman of The Year luncheon at the Towson Sheraton.

No more than six of the department's 50 officers above the rank of captain attended the rally, said police spokesman Sam Ringgold.

"Obviously, some of them didn't consider the rally to be their first priority," said Deputy Commissioner Eugene Tanzymore Jr., laughing. "I think it is generally understood by all of them that they are free to attend these kind of things or not as they see fit, if time permits, if they don't have something else scheduled. It's totally up to them."

Mr. Tanzymore, the commander of patrol, said it is against department policy to require anyone to attend a political function.

"If anybody did give my district commanders that kind of order," he said, "I would expect them to disobey it and report it immediately because it would be improper."

The memo, which came from Deputy Commissioner Melvin McQuay's office, said, "All commanders are asked to attend the announcement of Mayor Schmoke's endorsement of Prince George's County Executive Glendening."

Clinton R. Coleman, the mayor's spokesman, allowed that perhaps the memo should have been worded differently. "It should not have said 'asked,' " he said. "It should have said 'invited.' "

But Mr. Kinsolving said in an interview that "it is absolutely outrageous to ask police officers to set aside their pursuit of crime to become spear carriers" for a political event. . . . It is unmitigated outrage, one more Kurt Schmoke blunder."

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