City Council unanimously confirms Frazier to six-year term But some members upset with police commissioner

April 16, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier won unanimous confirmation to a six-year term last night despite complaints from some City Council members that he is not tough enough on small-time drug violators.

"I stand in support [of Mr. Frazier] but with hesitation," said 2nd District Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge.

Mr. Ambridge, Council President Lawrence A. Bell III and 3rd District Councilman Martin O'Malley are upset that Mr. Frazier in January announced a new crime-fighting strategy that de-emphasizes arrests for possession of small quantities of drugs and emphasizes taking guns off the streets.

Mr. Ambridge and Mr. Bell also are upset about Mr. Frazier's statement that he would rather spend tax dollars to treat chronic drug abusers and not to jail them.

"The primary role of the Police Department is to fight crime on every single level," Mr. Bell said. "The police commissioner should not be the one to take the lead on decriminalization or medicalization."

Mr. Frazier, who was not present during last night's council meeting, said in earlier meetings with council members that his plans will make the city a safer place to live in the long run.

In a meeting two weeks ago with the Executive Appointments Committee, he said that arresting just one offender on minor drug charges means an officer has to spend almost four hours in the stationhouse to complete the paperwork, time that is lost to patrol duties.

"What if we applied that same logic to domestic violence [cases]?" Mr. O'Malley said last night.

Despite the criticisms, the 19-member council unanimously said last night he is a good choice to continue as the city's top law enforcement officer.

Mr. Frazier was hired in 1994 to lead the 3,100-member Police Department. Since then, he has brought about some controversial changes.

He backed a campaign to install video cameras on street corners so police could monitor activities.

In addition, Mr. Frazier purged his command staff, eliminating several positions to streamline police administration and took 300 officers from desk duty and put them back on street patrol.

His goals for this next term include making parks safer, putting more officers on the street, enlarging the successful Police Athletic Leagues and enlisting up to 10,000 block representatives who can organize neighborhood cleanups and help report crime.

Pub Date: 4/16/96

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