'Top heavy' police force targeted

June 02, 1994|By Michael James and Eric Siegel | Michael James and Eric Siegel,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writer Joanna Daemmrich contributed to this article.

Baltimore's police commissioner announced yesterday a major shake-up that will force out three deputy commissioners and put a handful of colonels at the forefront of his effort to reform the problem-filled 2,900-member force.

Two other ranks in the department -- captain and lieutenant colonel -- also will be phased out in an effort to streamline management, Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier said. Among the benefits of the streamlining will be improved communication between police leaders and the community, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, he said.

"I don't think this was a surprise. It has been recognized that the department was top-heavy bureaucratically," Mr. Frazier said. "It was my decision that it was time for a reorganization. The deputy commissioners . . . agreed that now would be an appropriate time to retire."

The depth of the shake-up shocked some officers, but Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke told a community meeting yesterday that the changes would make the city safer. "We're going through a full reorganization of the Police Department now, and that is moving well. We hope that has an impact on reducing crime," he said.

The deputy commissioners -- Michael C. Zotos, 62, Melvin C. McQuay, 55, and Eugene Tanzymore Jr., 51 -- are longtime commanders who ran the department under former Commissioner Edward V. Woods.

Mr. Woods, who retired last year, had a rocky term as head of a department overwhelmed by morale and staffing problems. Mr. Frazier, who had worked in San Jose, Calif., inherited the department in January amid a flood of departing officers -- sometimes as many as 70 a month.

The deputy commissioners, each with more than 30 years on the force, will retire June 30 at the request of Mr. Frazier. About 14 captain positions and one lieutenant colonel position will be phased out through attrition.

Just eliminating the deputy commissioner positions will save the department approximately $300,000 annually in salaries and benefits -- enough to pay for "nine or 10 patrolmen," Mr. Frazier said.

But he said the streamlining was not "simply a dollars and cents issue. It's in the sense of improved communication. My objective is to get me closer to the department, and the department closer to the community."

Taking over as second in departmental command will be six colonels:

* Ronald L. Daniel will head the criminal investigation division.

* Joseph R. Bolesta will continue to head personnel and training.

* Steven A. Crumrine remains as chief of communications and central records.

* Leon A. Tomlin will be in charge of the Neighborhood Patrol Bureau.

* Patricia Mullen stays as commander of community services.

* George L. Christian will be assigned to the commissioner's office to head planning and legal services

Mr. Tanzymore, who headed the Neighborhood Patrol Bureau and had applied for the commissioner's job, said yesterday that he holds no grudge against Mr. Frazier.

"I'm not angry. Change is painful, but it has to happen," he said. "When I was younger, I would look at one of the old guys and say, 'Why doesn't he retire and make room for the young guy?' Sooner or later, you become that old guy. That day is here for me."

He said he respected Mr. Frazier's move to try to turn around the troubled department.

"I think morale has been on the upswing since he came here. But the perception overall is that it needs some building and it's not where it should be," Mr. Tanzymore said. "There's a lot of work to be done. Mr. Frazier might be up to the task, and I wish him well in his endeavors."

Neither Mr. McQuay, who filled in as acting police commissioner after Mr. Woods retired, nor Mr. Zotos could be reached for comment.

Lt. Leander Nevin, head of the city Fraternal Order of Police, labeled the deputy commissioners' retirements "firings, by any other name."

"There's no other way to put it. They were fired," he said. "I just guess [Mr. Frazier] is purging everybody out of here who he thinks are loyal to anyone else but him."

Mr. Nevin said the rank-and-file police officer "probably doesn't care much" about the shake-up. "All they're really worried about is getting the raises that they deserve," he said.

Detective Henry Martin, president of the Vanguard Justice Society, which represents the department's black officers, said he was surprised at the elimination of the deputy commissioners.

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