Police official announces retirement

Boles, a 32-year veteran, decides to leave after meeting with Daniel

March 20, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A high-ranking Baltimore police official who has wanted to be commissioner will retire next month, the latest in an exodus of commanders from a department undergoing sweeping changes under new leadership.

Lt. Col. Marcellus Boles, 56, said he made his decision after a recent meeting with Commissioner Ronald L. Daniel, who took over in January and has purged most of the previous administration's command staff.

"I think it's time to go," said Boles, who as a major once supervised then-Sergeant Daniel.

Daniel "didn't seem he had any place for me," Boles said.

The 32-year veteran, who has worked for six commissioners, has been mentioned twice for the top post -- in 1993 and last year after Martin O'Malley won the mayoral election.

"I thought I had the credentials," Boles said. "I think I could have done a good job. I'll never know now, in Baltimore City anyway."

Boles, a community policing advocate, said he was worried about the assertive policing strategy promoted by O'Malley during the campaign -- sentiments he made public as the mayor was deciding on a commissioner.

In an interview last week, Boles said he does not regret his comments. "I think police have to go out there aggressively," he said. "You have to let criminals know that if you carry a handgun and do violence, we will do our darndest to catch you."

But, Boles cautioned, "Going overboard is not a good idea."

Boles was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Baltimore. He joined the force in 1968 under the leadership of Donald D. Pomerleau, a reform-minded commissioner hired to revamp a brutal department marred by corruption.

He worked his way up the ranks, starting as a patrol officer in the Northeastern District, then tactical section and the STOP Squad, a now-defunct group of officers assigned to fight drugs in the early 1980s.

In 1992, Boles was appointed by then-Commissioner Edward V. Woods to head the department's community policing program, designed to build relationships between officers and city residents.

For the past few years, Boles has been director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Community Policing Institute, based at and funded by the Johns Hopkins University. It trains officers from across the region in ethics, integrity and working with the community.

Boles said he will continue to head that program after he retires from the force. The rank of lieutenant colonel was eliminated in 1994. He is the last city officer to hold that title.

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