A FEUD between Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier and his senior commander, Col. Ronald L. Daniel, supposedly ended Tuesday with a joint news conference. But the racial issues that put them at loggerheads have not been resolved. Until they are, the top cops' relationship will remain tenuous and the entire department's effectiveness could be compromised.
Other important steps now must be taken. The argument between Mr. Frazier and Mr. Daniel argument stemmed from complaints by African-American officers that internal disciplinary procedures are biased. The allegations were deemed valid in November by the city Human Relations Commission. But Mr. Frazier's response did not satisfy black officers.
Colonel Daniel, the highest ranking black on the force, was suspended by Mr. Frazier for allegedly criticizing the commissioner's lack of racial sensitivity and calling for his replacement at a meeting of Vanguard, an association of black officers. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke forced Mr. Frazier to rescind the suspension, but not before the job action had pushed Vanguard into an uncharacteristic alliance with the mostly white Fraternal Order of Police, which for months has demanded Mr. Frazier's head.
Commissioner Frazier and Colonel Daniel have promised to work together to end racial bias within the police force. It will take actions, not words, to convince black officers. In the meantime, the commissioner must withstand ouster efforts by longtime critics who see the Daniel incident as a sign of weakness.
It is encouraging the two officials -- with the help of attorney Ronald M. Shapiro -- resolved personal animosities soon after the mayor called for a 90-day cooling-off period. Now if City Council critics of Mr. Frazier's police tactics will stop meddling, he and Colonel Daniel may yet forge a new attitude among black and white officers that puts crime-fighting first and foremost -- as the public expects.
Pub Date: 5/02/97