Edwin Taylor, 82, city police division chief, lawyer

May 08, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Edwin E. Taylor, a lawyer and former chief of the Baltimore City Police Department's criminal investigation division, died Saturday of complications from surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was 82.

A longtime resident of Phoenix in Baltimore County, Mr. Taylor was born in the city and raised in Fells Point. During the mid-1930s, he left school to work as a dining saloon steward aboard the steamers of the old Baltimore Mail Line. Those ships sailed from Pier 11 in Canton to Le Havre, France.

After returning to Baltimore and earning his GED, Mr. Taylor joined the police force in 1944 and began one of the most phenomenal careers in department history.

During his 25-year career, he worked in every field of policing and had been the youngest man ever to hold the successive ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major and chief. He rose from patrolman to captain in 16 years.

"Through a breadth of training and experience, he soon became qualified to cope with the variety of problems and became what is now considered to be the total policeman," said a departmental newsletter at the time of his 1969 retirement.

Shortly after becoming a patrolman, Mr. Taylor received special assignments from the police commissioner and later was selected as an original member of the narcotics squad, then under the jurisdiction of the state's attorney's office.

In the early 1950s, after leaving the state's attorney's office, he worked as a plainclothes patrolman assigned to the Eastern District. He was promoted to sergeant in 1953. Two years later, he was promoted to lieutenant and worked as a district shift commander until being promoted to captain. In 1959 he became the first commanding officer of the newly created Northeastern District.

Mr. Taylor later commanded the Northwestern District until 1961, when he was transferred to headquarters and placed in charge of the department's new planning and research division, as well as the central records division, police community relations division, public information, intelligence division and the police service desk.

It was through Mr. Taylor's hard work that district community relations councils were established and functioning in the department's nine districts in 1965.

In 1966, he was promoted to major, and took over as director of the personnel division and later directed the youth division. He finished his career as a lieutenant colonel and from 1968 until 1969 was chief of the criminal investigation division.

In 1980, after the structure of the department was changed, Donald D. Pomerleau, then police commissioner, conferred the rank of colonel on Mr. Taylor in recognition of his tenure and work with the department.

"He was a good leader and a friend to lots of patrolmen. He was always determined but compassionate," said Michael C. Zotos, retired chief of the Aberdeen Police Department and former deputy Baltimore police commissioner. "He was always very sympathetic to the guys on the street and had a great love for the department and the officers. He so loved the department that he is going to be buried in his uniform.

"When I was a young patrolman, I'd be on the scene of a crime, and he'd come up and ask if I needed anything. He was always there for you," said Mr. Zotos, who lives in Timonium.

It was Mr. Taylor's experience in the state's attorney's office that directed him toward a legal career. "I wanted to become a better policeman," he told the Evening Sun in a 1959 interview.

He enrolled in a pre-law course at Eastern College and earned his bachelor's degree in 1960. He received a law degree from Mount Vernon School of Law in 1964. Both schools later merged with the University of Baltimore.

Mr. Taylor maintained a civil practice in the 200 block of N. Charles St., and continued working until his death. He was associated with Bernard J. Sevel.

"Dick was the most compassionate lawyer I ever knew," said Mr. Sevel. "He never cared about a fee and never turned anyone away. He always tried to help them resolve their disputes."

Mr. Taylor, who served on the board of the Municipal Employees Credit Union, was a member of Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Center Club. He enjoyed boating and sailing the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1938, he married Irene Shipley, who died in 2000.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Evans Funeral Home, 8800 Harford Road in Parkville.

Mr. Taylor is survived by two daughters, Joan Volenick of Mays Chapel and Renee Markle of Lutherville; two sisters, Evelyn Wolf and Lorraine Ochab, both of Baltimore; two grandsons; and two great-granddaughters.

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