Council to hold public hearings before voting on top police post

Proposed commissioner to discuss his plans

January 03, 2000|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

The City Council will hold two public hearings this month for residents to voice concerns and ideas about public safety before the council considers whether to confirm Col. Ronald L. Daniel as Baltimore's new police commissioner.

"I think it's going to be very important to have the community's perspective involved in what we want to see in our next police commissioner," said council President Sheila Dixon.

The council's Public Safety Committee will hold the first hearing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 18 at the auditorium of Polytechnic Institute, 1400 W. Cold Spring Lane in North Baltimore. The second hearing is Jan. 19 in East Baltimore, but the location is being determined.

Dixon said that while she wants the meetings primarily to be listening sessions for city officials, she also wants to hear Daniel's plans for curbing crime and the time frame for implementing them.

Mayor Martin O'Malley appointed Daniel police commissioner last month. Council members are scheduled to begin confirmation hearings for O'Malley's appointments when they reconvene Jan. 24. The council must confirm the police commissioner.

O'Malley's appointment of Daniel is the first of the "big three" posts that the mayor must fill. O'Malley is looking for a public works director and a housing commissioner.

George G. Balog, public works director, retires today. O'Malley has appointed M. J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the city's economic development agency, Baltimore Development Corp., acting housing commissioner until he finds a replacement for former Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III.

O'Malley has called his choice of police commissioner critical. During his campaign, the mayor made public safety his top issue, promising to clear 10 drug corners in his first six months in office.

Open-air drug markets are among the chief concerns the council is likely to hear during the public hearings.

Members of the Neighborhood Congress, a grass-roots political organization formed last year to present a unified voice from residents, want to see the drug markets closed and efforts to offer drug treatment on demand.

"I suspect you'll probably be hearing some of those same things at the public hearings," said Odette Ramos, a founder of the Neighborhood Congress.

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