Daniel's top two deputies on board

Ex-N.Y. commander promises `reduction' in shootings, killings

2 cities similar, he says

January 12, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

An outsider hired by Baltimore's new police commissioner to run the daily operations of the department promised crime weary citizens here yesterday he would cut violence by emulating the strategies that made New York a safer city.

"You are going to see a big difference throughout this city," said Edward T. Norris, who was a top police commander in the New York Police Department. "You are going to see a reduction of shooting incidents and murders. The police can really make a difference."

Commissioner Ronald L. Daniel, who was appointed Jan. 3 and faces a confirmation hearing at the end of the month, publicly announced his top deputies yesterday, completing his most significant picks of his upper echelon of command.

Norris, 40, who rose from patrolling a beat in Times Square to the near-top of the largest police agency in the nation in 16 years, will run the operations side of the Baltimore force that includes 2,500 patrol officers and all detectives.

He is regarded as a staunch defender of police and a young innovator who was a key adviser and confidant of New York Police Commissioner Howard Safir.

Norris is a protege of New York crime consultant Jack Maple, who has been hired by Mayor Martin O'Malley to help revamp the city's force. He was responsible for orchestrating aggressive police strategies that sent homicides plummeting from more than 2,200 in 1990 to fewer than 700 last year and helped turn around New York's image as a murderous city.

Yesterday, he played down differences between New York and Baltimore by asking and answering his own question: "Do people who live here want a safer city?" Without waiting for the obvious answer, he told a reporter: "Then it's not much different."

The other appointment was of Richard P. Rieman Jr., 44, a former city police lieutenant who retired in 1993 to become a lawyer. He is returning to the department as deputy commissioner of administration and will oversee personnel, training, recordkeeping and a $220 million budget.

A friend of Daniel's who met the new commissioner while working in the Western District 17 years ago, Rieman said he has been troubled by "fundamental problems with respect to where this agency was and the safety level of this city."

Daniel is under pressure from O'Malley, residents and politicians to quickly reduce killings that have topped 300 each year for the past decade and made Baltimore one of the deadliest cities in the nation.

"This is not going to be a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 job for any of us," Daniel said yesterday. "We'll be out there seven days a week. We'll be out there at night supporting the troops and letting the citizens know that we care about this very serious crime problem that we have."

Officer Gary McLhinney, the city police union president and a critic of the previous police commissioner and his crime-fighting strategies, encouraged Norris and Rieman to spend as much time as possible with his troops and city residents.

"There is no crime in the police headquarters building," McLhinney said. "It is on the street, and that is where our police leaders need to be."

Norris and Rieman are the two latest changes in Daniel's command staff. He released a new organizational chart yesterday that streamlines the command structure, with six people answering to him. The previous commissioner had 14.

Each of the new deputy commissioners will earn $120,000 a year. The commissioner earns a base salary of $115,000 a year, but Daniel said he is negotiating his pay with the mayor.

Norris' salary as a deputy commissioner in New York was $126,000 a year. He will receive a pension. Rieman also gets a pension for his 20 years of service on the Baltimore force that ended seven years ago, but the City Charter requires him to give that up on his return to the city.

Rieman, who grew up in Baltimore and attended public schools, lives in Anne Arundel County, and will remain there with his wife and 14-year-old son. He also has a 23-year-old daughter. Norris said he will move his wife and 7-month-old son to Baltimore.

Daniel first met Norris three years ago during a tour of the New York Police Department. At the time, O'Malley, then a councilman and harsh critic of the police administration, was championing New York's so-called zero-tolerance policing.

That policy calls for police to target minor infractions to discourage more serious crime. It has come under fire in New York from people who complain that it sanctions police brutality and leads to an increased number of innocent people being stopped by officers.

O'Malley's desire to copy New York style policing drew considerable debate in Baltimore during the mayoral campaign, heightened by a police shooting.

Daniel and O'Malley have avoided using the politically charged zero-tolerance term and have gone to great lengths to promise accountability and leadership that will not tolerate police abuse.

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