Frazier and the council Police matters: Elected city representatives shouldn't be ignored.

February 12, 1997

THE INTENT of Councilman Martin O'Malley is viewed by some as purely political. But that's no excuse for Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier to ignore a City Council request for a public hearing on racial discrimination allegations within the department.

No one is asking the chief to put aside important business to rush and do the council's bidding. But the council maintains it has asked him for an audience at least six times since the city Community Relations Commission agreed with some of the bias charges in November. It's time he found a way to fit this into his schedule.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke needs to show some leadership here. He says he has tried to foster a better relationship between other departments and the city real estate office, which wasn't getting cooperation to compile a master list of every agency's array of properties. The mayor similarly has to let Mr. Frazier know the importance of working cooperatively with the council.

Of course, Mr. Frazier has reason for caution. He knows the proclivity of council members to use public hearings to push personal agendas. Mr. Frazier did invite council members to an internal briefing on the racism charges, but that is no substitute for discussing this important issue in the sunshine of an open forum.

In a letter to Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, the police commissioner said he would meet with the council after "our internal process of problem identification and remedy has begun." The council would like to have some input before then.

There has been more cooperation at City Hall since the last mayoral election, when Mr. Schmoke ran against former Council President Mary Pat Clarke. But additional improvement is needed. The public would be better served by an administration and council that communicate and cooperate at all levels, particularly when the subject is making the police department a more efficient crime-fighting operation.

Pub Date: 2/12/97

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