Daniel's job on line, Schmoke suggests Police colonel hurts career by rekindling Frazier feud, he says

September 04, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday that a top police colonel who last week rekindled a feud with the city police commissioner by calling him a racist should reassess his career on the force.

The mayor stopped short of urging Col. Ronald L. Daniel, one of the highest-ranking black police commanders, to resign. But he said the 23-year veteran has undermined his ability to be a leader on the 3,200-member force.

In an interview with The Sun, Schmoke was clearly angry at the continuing racial feud that has engulfed the department since April despite his repeated attempts to smooth over the crisis at the top of the command chain.

"I think that Colonel Daniel's comments were way out of line, and they clearly undermine his ability to be an effective leader in the Baltimore City Police Department," Schmoke said. "His comments about fellow commanders were not only unfortunate, they were just plain wrong.

"I really think it is time for Colonel Daniel to seriously assess what he hopes are his future career options," the mayor added. "The statements that he made regarding this commissioner and his colleagues make it difficult for him to pursue advancement within this department."

The mayor said Daniel won't be disciplined for his inflammatory statements because they were made under subpoena in a court deposition. Asked if Daniel should resign, Schmoke said: "I'd like to have a conversation with him before he makes a decision."

Daniel, who made his comments in a 252-page sworn deposition on Aug. 1 in a discrimination lawsuit filed against the department, declined to comment yesterday.

In the deposition, which was obtained by The Sun, Daniel said he believes Frazier is a racist, described the white chief's management style as vindictive and said the commissioner put black commanders in meaningful positions only after adverse publicity. He also criticized the job performance of several top commanders, charging that some were unfit for their positions.

Daniel has been at the center of a controversy over race since April, when Frazier accused him of insubordination for questioning the chief's efforts at racial reform.

Frazier suspended Daniel, sparking an uproar in the city and presenting the mayor with a highly charged personnel dispute. Schmoke overturned Daniel's suspension, ended Frazier's investigation and restored the colonel to his post overseeing half of the patrol bureau, the largest command on the force.

In return, Daniel promised to oversee the effort to end discrimination, particularly charges that black officers were more harshly treated than white colleagues when accused of misconduct.

Daniel and Frazier agreed at a news conference in April to work together. Daniel said then that "after many long hours of dialogue and discussion, I do not believe he is a racist."

But in June, Daniel quit the reform effort, accusing department officials of blocking his work and charging Frazier with retaliating against two black majors who supported Daniel in April.

In his deposition, Daniel said Frazier did not learn from the April uproar. "Today, I think that the commissioner is a racist," he said in the deposition.

Schmoke said yesterday that he believes Frazier has worked hard since April to work with Daniel and end discrimination in the department. "I don't think that Colonel Daniel has done all he could do to help resolve some of the problems," the mayor said.

After Daniel's comments became public in The Sun last week, Schmoke met with Frazier and City Solicitor Otho M. Thompson to see if any disciplinary action could be taken. Schmoke and Frazier were advised that Daniel was protected because he was in a legal setting.

"I also recognize that Colonel Daniel was not the one to make these statements public," Schmoke said. "Giving your views and testimony while being subpoenaed puts it in a very different legal situation than had he made those statements at a community meeting or some other public forum."

But at the same time, Schmoke said Frazier, needs to run his Police Department without being second-guessed by those chosen to implement his policies.

"We have a very delicate personnel matter," the mayor said. "Commissioner Frazier can't do anything that is perceived as being retaliatory against somebody giving statements under subpoena. But he also can't live with a situation where one of his senior commanders is not supportive of him, his policies or his personnel."

Pub Date: 9/04/97

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