Essay winner is police chief for a day Prize for Lutherville youth is spending time with favorite leader, Frazier

December 20, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Chris Peck skipped school yesterday to spend it hanging out with his new friend Tom -- Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier.

Following Frazier for a day was an essay contest prize the 9-year-old from Lutherville won for writing about why he wants to be like Frazier when he grows up. Chris got a glimpse of what the head of a police force of more than 3,000 officers does for a living.

He said spending the day with Frazier was "better than Skateland."

"This is the commissioner for a day," Frazier told Sgt. Charles Snitzel as he guided the boy and his father, William Peck, around the 911 dispatch center at police headquarters on East Fayette Street downtown.

"Can he make payroll decisions, too?" asked Snitzel.

The day began with a ride in the commissioner's car to Linthicum to attend the first Police Corps academy graduation ceremony, where Frazier saluted the 28 newest members of the force.

But the best part was back at headquarters, where Chris lifted a fingerprint and saw the department's collection of more than 1,000 guns, including a Mauser German submachine gun dating from World War II.

Then there was the homicide unit's Christmas party, where Chris was introduced to Detective Donald Worden and Major Kathleen Patek.

"These are the best detectives," Frazier told Chris. "And she's the boss."

Back in the commissioner's spacious eighth-floor office overlooking City Hall, Chris was impressed by a picture of Frazier and President Clinton. Then Chris and Frazier discussed the reason for the Miranda warning and the connection between drugs and crime.

Frazier told Chris his essay, about the importance of being honest and brave now so that he could be a good officer later, zTC was "right-thinking, and basically about integrity."

About 5,000 students entered the "Follow A Leader" contest, in which they wrote an essay about one of 10 area business and civic leaders. The contest was sponsored by Macy's and supported by The Baltimore Sun. Chris won $1,000 as one of 10 winners.

Frazier said that when he was 9, growing up in California, he had "not one iota of an idea" he would become a police commissioner.

But, he told Chris, "This stuff gets in your blood, and you don't want to do anything else."

"I thought it would be a lot simpler," said Chris.

"So did I," said Frazier with a laugh.

Pub Date: 12/20/97

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