Another commander will leave city police

Col. Margaret Patten stressed women's issues, domestic violence cases

February 25, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The exodus of top Baltimore Police Department commanders continued yesterday as another colonel, the agency's highest ranking woman, told colleagues she will leave by April 1.

Col. Margaret Patten, 52, a 26-year veteran known for activism on women's issues and domestic violence, confirmed yesterday that she was asked to leave by new police Commissioner Ronald L. Daniel.

"I was told that I am not a part of the commissioner's plan," Patten said last night. "The commissioner has some people he wants to work with. Obviously I am not one of them."

Patten is the fifth colonel to retire since Daniel was chosen to run the 3,200-member department in December.

One colonel -- colonel is among the highest ranks on the force -- remains from the previous commissioner's tenure. One died.

`Expect some change'

Daniel would not comment on Patten yesterday. He noted that any officer with the rank of major or above "serves at the pleasure of the police commissioner. People can expect some change."

But Patten said yesterday that she had a 20-minute interview with Daniel on Tuesday in which the commissioner requested her resignation. Patten refused to characterize her exit interview with Daniel but did say, "absolutely I am very, very disappointed.

"I am pleased with what I accomplished here," she said.

The moves come as Daniel revamps and rebuilds the force. He has hired two deputy commissioners, including one from New York, Edward Norris, but has many open slots in critical areas.

Temporary supervisors are leading the criminal investigations, patrol, public affairs, human resources and internal investigations units.

Patten is chief of the community resources bureau, which handles such things as grants and exchange programs.

Most of the other colonels who have left or announced their departures have said they left voluntarily, but department sources said Daniel forced many to step down. Several were close to the previous commissioner, Thomas C. Frazier, with whom Daniel clashed publicly.

The changes come as the department steps up its street-level efforts to quickly reduce crime and homicides.

`Not a distraction'

"It's not a distraction," the commissioner said, adding that many positions could be permanently filled within a month. "It's the normal course of doing business." He plans to have five colonels and two deputies.

A department insider said Daniel has made it clear that he will not string along people who he does not think have a future under his leadership.

Officer Gary McLhinney, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, said that even with the turnover at headquarters, "the department is functioning better now than it has in recent memory."

Advocate for women

Patten had applied to be police commissioner and was an outspoken advocate for women's issues. She made the city police force an area leader on domestic violence.

She ordered officers to conduct follow-up visits to homes of women or men who reported being beaten and officers who mishandled domestic violence calls were brought up on departmental charges.

Patten ran afoul of other top commanders. Frazier accused her of inappropriately distributing statistics to City Council members and had her take a polygraph test. The results were not revealed.

Last year, Patten accused a fellow colonel who has since retired, John E. Gavrilis, of rifling through her office closet looking for reports. She pressed for an internal investigation, which was begun, then canceled.

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