Mayor, Frazier oppose hearing O'Malley's inquiry on homicide probes called unnecessary

December 21, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's police chief and mayor are criticizing plans by a City Council committee to hold investigative hearings on why the arrest rate is declining for homicides, and the chief said top commanders might not attend.

Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier said he might refrain from sending Maj. Kathleen Patek, the homicide unit commander, or Col. John E. Gavrilis, the chief of the criminal investigations bureau, to appear before the committee.

"I think a lieutenant, or a sergeant, should be able to adequately explain what his going on," Frazier said, adding that the committee "has a legitimate legislative oversight" role, "but I believe that can be overstepped."

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said he wished Councilman Martin O'Malley, chairman of the Legislative Investigations Committee, had asked police officials for an explanation before calling for a investigation.

"It gives the perception that there is something wrong in the Police Department," the mayor said. "The police chief would have been happy to give him answers without having a big public hearing."

O'Malley, who represents Northeast Baltimore, did not return several telephone calls to his City Hall office, his law office or electronic pager Friday. The councilman spars with Frazier and is one of his chief critics.

The resolution calling for the hearing -- for which no date has been set -- was sponsored by O'Malley and two other council members and was supported by 13 others. They cited statistics that show a declining arrest rate, despite more detectives investigating fewer slayings.

Police officials said numbers in the resolution are misleading because some include slayings solved in previous years and others do not. The resolution also said the homicide unit has 62 detectives; it has 48.

Patek has acknowledged a declining arrest rate, which she attributes to fewer domestic killings and more, harder-to-solve drug slayings. Police said the homicide clearance rate through Thursday -- including slayings solved from previous years -- is 63.6 percent, compared with 71.6 percent at the same time last year. The rate in 1995 was 74.1 percent.

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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