They hit town like a pair of action-movie heroes, the mayor in the black sleeveless muscle shirt and the barrel-chested New York cop. They put the hurt on the bad guys together and helped each other gain fame by knocking down Baltimore's crime rate.
Once friends and occasional drinking companions, now Mayor Martin O'Malley and his former police commissioner, Edward T. Norris, aren't even speaking.
They haven't said a word to each other in four months, since Norris abruptly left after a financial scandal - and sharp words - to join O'Malley's political nemesis, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., and become the state police superintendent.
Yesterday, both Norris and O'Malley tried to dismiss questions about whether their fractured relationship had derailed a cooperative effort between the state and city to fight crime.
"There were a lot of promises made, and a lot of high hopes that the state would help us," O'Malley said yesterday. "But that hasn't happened, and I suspect that may be because of the state's financial constraints."
Norris said complaints that he hasn't kept a promise he made in December to increase state police assistance in the city are premature.
He said yesterday that he hopes to meet with the city's new police commissioner, Kevin P. Clark, today to try to coordinate the efforts.
A meeting hasn't happened, Norris said, because he and Clark have been busy. Norris had declined to comment on the delay a day earlier, when his office was asked about it by The Sun.
"We are still offering to help the city. ... What slowed us down is the fact that we both had other things going on. It's not personal," Norris told reporters yesterday outside the state police barracks in Waterloo.
The state won't be able to meet the city's request for 34 state troopers, Norris said. But the state probably will assign a few troopers to the city's fugitive task force and perhaps its drug task force, he said.
Despite the assurances of future meetings, some in the city were scratching their heads yesterday over the total lack of communication between Norris and O'Malley.
They used to be the closest of partners, drinking together, occasionally dining together and talking several times a day.
City Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr., hired yesterday by Norris as community relations director for the state police, said he hopes to ease the tension between O'Malley and Norris.
"I want to patch that relationship up," D'Adamo said. "One of the challenges I will have is to put them back together so we have a good partnership between the city and the state. We're all trying to achieve the same thing, to make the streets safer."
Friends at first
The relationship between Norris and O'Malley dates to the formative days of O'Malley's administration.
O'Malley, a former prosecutor who wore sleeveless shirts while performing at night with his Irish rock band, campaigned in 1999 on promises to drive down the city's murder rate by introducing the zero-tolerance policing that had proven successful in New York City.
When O'Malley hired Norris in January 2000, he became the personification of the mayor's central promise to the voters.
Working together over three years, O'Malley and Norris knocked down the city's murder rate by 17 percent, the violent crime rate by 28 percent and shootings by 41 percent, according to city police statistics.
Those close to O'Malley said that the mayor and Norris were friends during the first two years of the former commissioner's tenure.
But last summer, sources said, the relationship cooled as some of O'Malley's aides began to sour on Norris' efforts at police headquarters and reported their complaints to the mayor.
As the city weathered an increase in homicides and juvenile violence, O'Malley's aides told him that Norris was not working enough hours and was often difficult to reach on his cellular phone when critical decisions were needed, according to those close to the mayor. While O'Malley is in constant contact with aides via a hand-held e-mail device known as a BlackBerry, Norris refused to use one, sometimes making it difficult for his aides and City Hall officials to track him down.
Agitation over `spies'
Meanwhile, Norris was growing increasingly annoyed by O'Malley's meddling in police affairs, according to those close to the former commissioner.
Another source of irritation for the former commissioner was that his two main aides were among the mayor's closest allies - Sean Malone, the department's chief legal advisor, and Norris' deputy chief of staff, Kevin Enright, a brother of Michael Enright, who is a childhood friend of the mayor's and serves as O'Malley's chief operating officer.
Norris grew agitated and called the two "spies," according to some who know him.
City Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young said that Norris might have been frustrated with the two representatives from O'Malley's office stationed in the police department. "If I were commissioner, I would want my people loyal to me," Young said.