Police post goes to Daniel

Colonel reassigned in dispute with Frazier is an acting commander

Two years at City Hall

October 20, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police colonel who was ousted from his command after calling his boss a racist has returned to the headquarters building after more than two years of mayor-imposed exile to a small City Hall office.

Col. Ronald L. Daniel, a 25-year veteran, was named acting commander of the Human Resources Bureau on Monday, filling in for Col. Victor Gregory, who is on extended sick leave. He supervises the personnel, training, fiscal and professional standards divisions.

Daniel declined to comment yesterday. The former chief of patrol -- where he oversaw 2,000 officers -- had been moved to the Mayor's Coordinating Council on Criminal Justice on Sept. 4, 1997. There, he oversaw community crime grants with a staff of five.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said he had asked three colonels, who are acting police commissioners on a rotating basis, to review Daniel's position as a way of "taking a look at unfinished business in the department."

Schmoke, who ends his 12-years as mayor Dec. 7, said he is trying to ensure a smooth transition for the next chief executive. His police commissioner, Thomas C. Frazier, left this month to take a job at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Daniel, who lost to Frazier for the commissioner's job in 1994, sparked an uproar in 1997 for suggesting at a private meeting of black officers that Frazier be replaced if he did not address internal racism. Frazier accused Daniel of leading what he called "an overthrow of the government."

Schmoke reversed the suspension, but not before black officers marched on City Hall and called for Frazier's ouster. As a result, the command staff was fractured, and a public reconciliation between the two top officers fell apart five months later when Daniel called Frazier a racist in a deposition for a discrimination lawsuit filed by a black police helicopter pilot.

The mayor reassigned Daniel to City Hall and criticized him, saying he should "seriously assess what he hopes are his future career options." Schmoke said Daniel's comments made "it difficult for him to pursue advancement within the department."

Daniel had threatened to sue, accusing city officials of moving him as punishment for speaking out. But he withdrew his threat and quietly worked his assignment for 777 days. He has not talked publicly for more than two years.

But with Frazier gone as commissioner, Daniel's name has been mentioned by several City Council members as the department's next leader. Democratic mayoral nominee Martin O'Malley, who said he has not chosen a chief, would only say that Daniel is "a good guy."

Daniel's return to headquarters puts him side by side with top police officials with whom he had openly fought two years ago.

Several Frazier supporters are in top command positions -- including two named interim commissioners by Schmoke and another who leaked Daniel's comments and was promoted the next day. Daniel criticized their leadership in his deposition.

Col. John E. Gavrilis, who led Frazier's aborted investigation, is the current acting police commissioner. The other two colonels who will run the department are Robert Smith and Bert Shirey.

Many black officers and community members thought Daniel had been punished for speaking honestly about the poor state of race relations.

Naming him commissioner, said Sgt. Richard Hite, president of Vanguard Justice Society, a black officers group, "would bring closure to the whole Frazier era."

Pub Date: 10/20/99

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