2 leaders in police command to retire

Departures of McEntee, Klein are latest in series of department changes

April 11, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Two top-ranking Baltimore police veterans plan to announce their retirement from the department today, according to sources close to both men.

The departures of John McEntee, deputy commissioner of operations, and George Klein, chief of the department's patrol division, could have far-ranging consequences for the force.

"This is absolutely a shame," said Dan Fickus, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3. "As far as I'm concerned, this is going to be devastating. They are going to be sorely missed. That's for sure."

McEntee and Klein declined to comment last night.

Sources close to the commanders said they never developed a relationship with new Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark and often were not consulted about major changes within the force.

Both men joined the department in the early 1970s and worked their way up the ranks.

McEntee oversaw major declines in crime, first in the Northwestern District and later as chief of patrol and deputy commissioner.

He served briefly as acting police commissioner after the city's former top officer, Edward T. Norris, abruptly resigned in December to head the Maryland State Police.

At the time, many inside the department thought Mayor Martin O'Malley was going to give McEntee a chance to remain commissioner. Instead, O'Malley hired Clark, a commander with the New York Police Department.

Klein, a former district commander and supervisor of the Warrant Apprehension Task Force, was promoted to chief of patrol in January by McEntee.

The retirements are the latest in a series of changes to the department's command staff. On Friday, Clark shuffled 11 commanders to new jobs. He has also hired two New York police officers -- a former sergeant and lieutenant -- to oversee major divisions within the force.

Besides McEntee and Klein, the department has lost two other experienced commanders to retirement since late December -- former Chief of Patrol Robert Biemiller and Chief of Detectives Robert M. Stanton.

"This instability is creating some morale problems," Fickus said. "It does create some animosity, with the constant restructuring that's going on."

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