2 new police commanders take Central, Northern posts Baltimore promotions include 4 black women advanced to sergeant

November 28, 1995|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Two new Baltimore police commanders took over the Central and Northern District stations yesterday, after a holiday weekend marked by promotions and transfers that affect nearly every section of the department.

Twenty-five officers were promoted to sergeant, including four black women -- hailed by one of those promoted as a positive step in increasing the number of minorities in the ranks.

The new Central District commander is Maj. Steven E. McMahon, who was promoted from lieutenant and now is in charge of an area that encompasses the downtown business district and Inner Harbor.

Maj. George Mitchell, who most recently worked in the police commissioner's office, also was promoted from lieutenant and takes over command at Northern District, a large area from East 25th Street to the Baltimore County line.

The former Central District commander, Maj. Leonard Hamm, who is retiring in January, was the first black commander of Central District. He was appointed to the position by Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier in April 1994, just four months after the chief came to Baltimore.

Major Hamm, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, has been hired by the Downtown Partnership, an organization that promotes businesses. He will be the deputy director of field operations, serving under Frank Russo, a retired police major who also commanded Central District.

The former commander of Northern District, Maj. Michael Bass, who was appointed to the position in August, has been assigned to headquarters to review grants that the department has received. "I'm excited about it," he said yesterday.

The police commissioner was on a retreat and could not be reached for comment yesterday on the personnel changes.

The two new commanders each have worked in the districts before. Major McMahon, 37, a 15-year veteran, was in Central District for about a year in 1993.

Major Mitchell, 50, a 23-year veteran, was a sergeant in Northern District in 1985-1989. Major Mitchell said he is receiving "a lot more input from the community in the decision-making process now," and said he is spending his first days "just getting to know the people and community and speaking with the officers."

Two sergeants were promoted to lieutenant: James E. Buckmaster will move from Southern District to Northern District, and Edward C. Jackson will move from the special projects division to Eastern District.

Four captains also were transferred from districts to headquarters: Michael J. Andrew, Gary P. D'Addario, William J. Eusini and John J. MacGillivary will work in the neighborhood patrol bureau.

Among the 25 officers promoted to the rank of sergeant are four black women, including Sgt. Sabrina V. Tapp-Harper, who is a spokeswoman for the department and works in the public affairs office. She will be transferred to Northern District when a replacement is found.

When Sergeant Tapp-Harper joined the force in 1987, only one black woman held a rank above that of officer -- Lt. Linda Flood, who became a major before retiring recently.

Before yesterday, eight black women held sergeant's rank. Now the department has 12 black female sergeants, and one black female lieutenant.

"When I first came here, one officer told me it couldn't be done," Sergeant Tapp-Harper said.

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