Col. Victor Gregory, 51, human resources chief in city Police Department

January 04, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Col. Victor D. Gregory, chief of the Baltimore Police Department's Human Resources Bureau and a career police officer, died Saturday of cancer at Genesis Eldercare Center in Randallstown. He was 51 and lived in Woodstock, Howard County.

Colonel Gregory had been head of the department's Education and Training Division for a year when in 1997 he was named acting chief and then later chief of the Human Resources Bureau, where his responsibilities included supervising personnel and hiring officers.

Because Colonel Gregory was an active-duty officer when he died, officers wore black bands across their badges yesterday, an act of respect for a fallen colleague and an indication that the department is in mourning.

"He had a reputation for being efficient, levelheaded, evenhanded and fair," said Col. Bert F. Shirey, chief of the Field Operations Bureau. "He also had a good sense of humor and could be very serious when he had to be. But above all, he was always very understanding."

One of his toughest duties, said Colonel Shirey, was calling in officers who had been on long-term medical leave to discuss their future at administrative hearings.

"He knew that he would have to ask them to retire or face termination and he always said it was so unpleasant. But he did what was best for the individual and the department, and he did it with dignity," he said.

"He was probably one of the most-respected command staff members in the history of the department," said Gary McLhinney, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 and a friend for 20 years.

Police officers could count on a fair hearing from him, said Mr. McLhinney, who said Colonel Gregory never had to raise his voice to get his point across.

Maj. James L. Hawkins Jr., commander of the Eastern District, remembers working for him in the Eastern District in the mid-1980s.

Colonel Gregory, a soft-spoken but firm commander, used to walk the district's streets and stop in homes to chat.

Then, he would take information he had learned and pass it to his troops. "He was real reserved, but direct," Major Hawkins said.

Once, he ordered Major Hawkins, then a lieutenant, to shake up the midnight shift. In his typical style, Colonel Gregory told him the reorganization had worked, and it was time to back off.

"He said, `Hey, Hawk, it got their attention.' In those few words, I knew what he meant," Major Hawkins recalled yesterday. "It is a unique quality in a supervisor."

Another colleague, Maj. Odis L. Sistrunk Jr., called Colonel Gregory "a prince. He was a good person to work with, and he loved his job."

Born and raised in West Baltimore, Colonel Gregory was a 1967 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Morgan State University in 1978. He received a master's degree in criminal justice from Coppin State College in 1983.

He was appointed to the Police Department in 1971 and resigned two years later, and was reappointed to the department's Education and Training Division in 1975.

He was appointed sergeant in 1979. His many departmental promotions included commanding the city's Western District, heading the Neighborhood Patrol Bureau and serving as executive officer to the chief of patrol.

"He never forgot his roots, that he was still a police officer first," said Colonel Shirey.

Services will be held at 10: 30 a.m. Thursday at Christian Life Church, 6605 Liberty Road, Baltimore.

He is survived by four brothers, Rodney Gregory of Alexandria, Va., and Ronald M. Gregory, Norman Gregory, Douglas D. Gregory, all of Baltimore; a sister, Paulette Gregory of Baltimore; and his mother, Mary Gregory of Baltimore.

Sun staff writer Peter Hermann contributed to this article.

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