Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Bert F. Shirey will retire early next year, likely prompting a reorganization of the department, officials said yesterday.
Since May -- when Commissioner Edward T. Norris removed four high-ranking commanders -- Shirey has been running much of the day-to-day operations of the department, as well as managing its administrative side.
"We can expect department-wide changes in the next month or so," Norris said. "Some people will be elevated."
Among those being mentioned most often to fill the administrative role are Daniel O'Connor, who heads the department's human resources division, and Lt. Col. John McEntee, who runs the Northwestern District.
The reshuffling could be critically important to the city's efforts to reduce homicides to below 175 next year. There were 261 last year -- the lowest number of killings in a decade -- and police are on track to lower that figure this year.
Shirey, who has worked for the department for 35 years, was praised by Norris and Mayor Martin O'Malley.
"He'll be missed," Norris said. "He carried so much of the load for me."
O'Malley said Shirey took "this department from the basement to the top."
Shirey, 56, is known in the department for his historical knowledge, his polite demeanor and, above all else, his work ethic. He often clocked more than 20 hours a day and spent several nights a week on the red vinyl couch in his office.
Shirey said his wife would probably not allow him to keep the couch, though it would fit nicely in his garage.
Shirey tried to retire last year, but Norris persuaded him to stay and appointed him deputy police commissioner for administration.
In May, Norris removed four high-ranking commanders, including Barry W. Powell, the deputy police commissioner of operations. Shirey immediately began instituting many of Norris' strategies and running crime-trend meetings, as well as taking care of the department's administrative duties.
Shirey said he hoped to spend more time with his wife, perhaps restore some classic cars and then take a job in the private sector.
"I can't pull this weight anymore," Shirey said. "I'm not going to coast on my reputation for another year."