Police commissioner promotes 2 veteran commanders in city

Norris names successors to retiring deputy chief

January 15, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris promoted two veteran police commanders to high-ranking posts yesterday, filling a vacancy left by the pending retirement of Deputy Police Commissioner Bert F. Shirey.

Col. Kenneth L. Blackwell, who ran the department's patrol division, was promoted to acting deputy police commissioner of administration - Shirey's old job, which he'll officially leave next week.

Blackwell will supervise administrative functions, including managing the department's $226 million budget.

Lt. Col. John McEntee, who commanded the Northwestern District, was promoted to colonel in charge of the department's patrol division, which oversees operations in the city's nine district stations and special operations units.

Both promotions are effective today.

Norris, who could not be reached for comment, promoted Blackwell and McEntee because "he feels confident in their ability to do the job," said police spokeswoman Ragina C. Averella.

The moves come nearly seven months after Norris removed four high-ranking commanders, including the deputy commissioner for operations, Barry W. Powell. Since then, Shirey has handled administrative duties and helped Norris run the department's day-to-day operations.

Norris has not indicated whether he will promote anyone to deputy commissioner of operations.

Blackwell joined the force in 1969. He was promoted to major in 1990 and was put in charge of the patrol division in the summer. Blackwell could not be reached for comment yesterday.

McEntee joined the force in 1971 and was promoted to major in 1997. He was assigned to lead the Northwestern District in March 2000 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in July.

From 1999 through 2001, the Northwestern District posted a 38 percent reduction in violent crime.

"He has had a lot of success in his district," Averella said.

McEntee said he will meet with district commanders to discuss how to tackle crime citywide.

Gary McLhinney, president of the local police union, applauded the promotions. "The department is finally making promotions on the basis of merit," he said.

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