Balto. Co. police chief reappointed

`Results we've seen' noted by Smith in Sheridan pick

February 04, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. reappointed Terrence B. Sheridan as chief of police yesterday after a lengthy deliberation.

In the end, Sheridan stood out as the person best equipped to fight crime in the county, officials said.

"Terry Sheridan has done exactly what citizens expect a police chief to do: He's helped make their neighborhoods safer," Smith said in a statement. "No one can argue with the results we've seen since he took over the Police Department."

Smith also reappointed Arnold F. "Pat" Keller III as the director of the county's Office of Planning and officially nominated David S. Iannucci as director of the Office of Economic Development. All three nominations must be confirmed by the County Council.

Keller has been planning director since 1994. Iannucci, former secretary of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, would replace Robert L. Hannon, who held the post for eight years.

Sheridan, a retired state police commander, was appointed chief in 1996 by County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

"I feel honored and privileged," Sheridan said last night. "We'll continue in the direction we've been going."

In addition to focusing on crime and issues associated with changing demographics and growth, the police will be working with state and federal agencies on national security issues, Sheridan said. "It's another form of crime," he said.

Although Sheridan has been criticized by the union in recent months, he is credited with focusing resources on youth offenders, schools and high-crime neighborhoods, said Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for Smith. She pointed to several special units created under Sheridan's command, such as the Business Patrol Initiative.

The 79,568 crimes reported in the county during 2001 - while up from the year before - were well below the five-year peak, according to Police Department statistics. The clearance rate for violent crime was 79 percent in 2001 - higher than the state and national averages. Sheridan credited officers, residents and other agencies that work with the department, such as prosecutors, for the success.

Cole B. Weston, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4, said yesterday: "I'm still concerned about the future and vision of this agency and how we're going to police in the coming decade. ... I've said all along that the chief of police - whoever was chosen - needs to consider the impact that managerial decisions have on officers' lives."

In a December newsletter, Weston wrote a scathing evaluation of Sheridan's performance, which questioned many of his administrative decisions. The chief told council members last night that he hopes his relationship with the FOP will improve.

Council President Kevin Kamenetz, who has questioned why Smith would look at other candidates besides Sheridan, said he expects the council to confirm the chief's nomination.

"My point was that I had heard [Smith] was looking at people from outside the county, which concerned me," Kamenetz said. "But I'm certainly satisfied with this nomination."

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