3 nominees say officers backed candidacies for review board

October 28, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Three nominees for the 12-member Police Civilian Review Board say Baltimore police officials recommended them for the panel, adding fuel to state lawmakers' criticism that the selection process was exclusive.

Speaking before the City Council's executive nominations committee yesterday, the nominees said a police major or sergeant asked them if they would sit on the board, before other people in the community knew about the posts.

State legislators have criticized Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in recent weeks for the nomination process.

The legislators -- led by Sens. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, Joan Carter Conway and Ralph M. Hughes and Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks -- said no public notification of the positions was made, so the council should reject the nominees.

Mitchell said testimony at the hearing supported the criticism.

Under the state law that created the board on Oct. 1, the mayor nominates board members and the council confirms or rejects them.

Schmoke has said he nominated members based on community activism and involvement in the nine district community-relations councils, as he told lawmakers that he would. The mayor was out of town yesterday and could not be reached to comment.

The committee met to interview six nominees for the board, which will hear complaints of police misconduct. Others were interviewed last week.

"Honestly, I don't know all the mechanisms behind it," said Rusty White, a nominee from Northwest Baltimore, adding that a police sergeant approached him about sitting on the board.

Leonard Scott, 51, of Northeast Baltimore said a police major from his community asked him about sitting on the board. William Brent, 75, of Southwest Baltimore said a police major in his community told its Police Community Relations Council that if no one volunteered, he would submit Brent's name for the board.

Last week, nominee George W. Collins told the council committee a district police commander recommended him to the mayor.

Cleoda Walker of South Baltimore said she told police officials she was interested in the board after she heard about it through the media. "I guess you could say I campaigned for it," she said. "I'm very interested."

The panel did not make a recommendation yesterday, largely because Councilwoman Rita R. Church, committee chairwoman, was ill, and council vice chairwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector was out of town.

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