City Officer Accused Of Insubordination A `Loyal Soldier' Unused To Media Glare

Daniel Had Supported Police Commissioner, Worked Within System

April 25, 1997|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Col. Ronald L. Daniel has long been known as a man who is willing to speak his mind on controversial issues -- behind closed doors.

Daniel, a veteran commander who stands accused of insubordination for allegedly questioning Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier's commitment to ending racial disparity in the department, has never been one to seek the media spotlight.

Since joining the force in 1973, Daniel, 47, has earned four commendations and one bronze star, awarded in 1977 for arresting two armed robbery suspects. He didn't tout those achievements. Time and again, he was a silent recipient.

"I don't think in his wildest dreams he would have done something to cause this kind of reaction," said Maj. Wendell M. France, commander of the Eastern District and a longtime friend of Daniel's. "He has always worked within the system."

Ironically, one of the few times Daniel did speak out was in 1994, to support Frazier's appointment to head the Baltimore Police Department. Daniel was himself a candidate for commissioner.

Daniel has supported Frazier's crime-fighting strategies and defended the commissioner at community meetings.

"Nobody has been a stauncher supporter of the commissioner than Daniel has been," said Councilman Martin O'Malley, a 3rd District Democrat. "He was always there at council hearings like a loyal soldier."

Daniel is married, with two sons, ages 5 and 10, and lives in Anne Arundel County. He was born and raised on Baltimore's west side.

The first in his family to join the police force, Daniel graduated from City College in 1967, the same year as Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. He later took classes at the Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University, where he was a pre-med major.

Daniel decided to change career tracks after facing an insurmountable obstacle: chemistry. A sergeant in the Western District recruited Daniel to the Police Department. After joining, Daniel attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

"Colonel Daniel has always been regarded as one of the department's smartest and most competent commanders," said Maj. Bert Shirey, head of the tactical unit. Daniel worked under Shirey's command a decade ago, as a lieutenant in the now-defunct Inspectional Services Division.

Several police commanders said yesterday that they were surprised by Daniel's recent venture into the limelight, caused by comments he allegedly made at a meeting of the Vanguard Justice Society last week. The Vanguard represents about 600 of the city's 1,100 black officers.

"I find it difficult to believe that he would allow himself to get in the situation he's now in," said Shirey. "The commissioner placed a lot of trust in him."

As chief of the Field Operations Bureau, Daniel is in charge of 2,500 of the department's 3,200 officers. He achieved the position -- second in command only to the commissioner -- after serving in more than a dozen posts, including jobs in homicide, tactical operations, internal investigations and personnel.

Pub Date: 4/25/97

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