Tolliver's record New police chief has strong credentials, but checkered history.

February 03, 1997

LARRY W. TOLLIVER has the necessary credentials to be Anne Arundel County's new chief of police, but his performance as superintendent of the Maryland State Police from 1992-95 was far less than impressive. County Executive John G. Gary is taking a considerable risk by appointing him as the county's top police officer.

Even though there is normally a close correlation between population growth and crime, Anne Arundel has not experienced a surge in criminal activity as it has grown into a more densely populated suburb. The task for the new chief is not to beat back any crime wave overrunning the county but to develop a professional force to ensure that criminal activity doesn't get a foothold. When crimes occur, county residents expect the police to solve cases quickly and apprehend the perpetrators.

With more than 800 uniformed and civilian employees, Anne Arundel's police department demands highly competent professional management. Yet in spite of the fact that Mr. Tolliver is the first chief appointed in 32 years who did not rise through the ranks, his management record elsewhere is mediocre at best.

While head of the state police, Mr. Tolliver ignored serious incidents of sexual harassment toward female troopers. He tolerated a generally hostile atmosphere toward women, many of whom were frequently subjected to obscene, adolescent behavior that bordered on criminal assault. Male supervisors discouraged these troopers from filing complaints, and women were subjected to retaliation when they did. The cases were serious enough to prompt an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Mr. Tolliver was also behind the bungled raid three years ago of The Block, Baltimore's red-light district. The sting turned out to be a sore point for the state police. Undercover officers improperly consorted with drug dealers and prostitutes. Ultimately, prosecutors had to drop most cases, soiled by trooper misbehavior and poor investigative methods.

County police have suffered an occasional black eye as well, from misconduct on the part of a few of their own. Building a well-trained, professional force requires an exceptional leader. So far in his career, Mr. Tolliver has not demonstrated such skills. Time will tell if Mr. Gary has chosen well.

Pub Date: 2/03/97

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