Daniel flattens out top police command

Deputies: New Yorker to oversee daily operations

former Baltimore lieutenant to run administration.

January 12, 2000

THESE ARE the first impressions: Edward T. Norris, the New Yorker who will run the Baltimore Police Department's daily operations, is a restless bantam. Richard P. Rieman Jr., the lawyer and former city lieutenant who will oversee administration, prefers the sidelines.

These impressions could be all wrong. After all, Mr. Rieman, during his 20-year career on the force, exhibited such a short fuse he was nicknamed "Screamin' Rieman."

But the chemistry seemed right yesterday when Ronald L. Daniel, the police commissioner designate, introduced his deputy commissioner picks.

This is important. Some awkwardness would be understandable. Mr. Norris, after all, applied -- and was a finalist -- for the job Mr. Daniel got.

That the New Yorker now becomes the No. 1 deputy here was not necessarily Mr. Daniel's idea. The recommendation came from Jack Maple, the former New York deputy commissioner who is Mayor Martin O'Malley's consultant on remaking the troubled and demoralized department.

Using strategies Mr. Maple introduced so successfully in the Big Apple, this top command will now attack Baltimore's shockingly high number of homicides. While killings nationwide continued to decline last year, Baltimore exceeded 300 slayings for the 10th consecutive year.

The reorganization Mr. Daniel unveiled yesterday streamlines the Police Department's structure. Instead of 14 commanders reporting directly to him, six will. This should free Mr. Daniel to deal with big-picture issues, including making sure that his commands are carried out. It's notable that he has revived an inspection section that former chief Thomas C. Frazier abolished. It will audit the day-to-day performance of districts.

As operational leader, Mr. Norris will oversee the patrol, criminal investigation and community resources divisions. He will implement Mr. Maple's New York crime-fighting methods. Although that philosophy is often called "zero-tolerance," Mr. Norris does not like the name. So it will be called something else.

Mr. Rieman will direct the department's administration -- everything from budget and personnel to record-keeping and communications. He had experience in those matters during his 20-year career -- before he retired, went to law school and joined the downtown firm of Kollman & Sheehan. The big question mark, however, is his total lack of experience as a police commander.

Mr. Daniel first met Mr. Rieman in the Western District. He was a sergeant; Mr. Rieman was a narcotics officer, who thought Mr. Daniel was butting onto his turf. "It was a rocky start," Mr. Daniel recalled yesterday.

Over the years, they developed a close and trusting relationship. On a force that was -- and still is -- racially polarized, theirs was an unusual partnership: The rapidly rising Mr. Daniel became a mentor to Mr. Rieman, whose promotions stalled despite early promise as a Police Academy valedictorian and the first in his class to make sergeant and lieutenant.

Mr. Daniel pledged more changes by Feb. 1. They had better work. Baltimoreans are impatient for results. They want murders to decrease, open-air drug markets to disappear.

In short, they want a safer city.

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