City police commander fired amid internal investigation

Fleet assessment caused his dismissal, he says

January 21, 2004|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A top-ranking Baltimore police commander said he was fired yesterday, alleging that his bosses wanted to get rid of him, in part, because he contradicted their official assessment of the department's automobile fleet.

Lt. Col. Stanford Franklin, who headed the human resources division, is one of at least six commanders under investigation by internal affairs detectives for mostly minor alleged infractions.

Union officials and City Council members have complained that the internal affairs inquiries are a distraction from the department's crime-fighting efforts. The dismissal also comes as many in the agency complain about reshuffling of the agency's commanders, low morale and lack of communication from its top leaders.

Police spokesman Matt Jablow wouldn't comment yesterday on why Franklin was fired, offering only that Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark decided "to go in another direction with that position."

"Commissioner Clark is grateful for Lieutenant Colonel Franklin's service," Jablow added.

Franklin, who once led the training division, is widely respected for his straightforward nature, according to current and former commanders.

Former Deputy Commissioner John McEntee said yesterday that Franklin was "always very professional." "It surprises me," McEntee said about the firing. "He seemed like he kept his head low and was doing his job day in and day out. I never heard anyone question his motives or integrity."

Franklin discussed a variety of concerns about the department and said a culture of fear now grips the agency's ranks. He said that Clark had difficulty focusing and completing tasks. He also questioned why Clark had not yet delivered his long-promised plan to reduce city crime. Clark could not be reached to comment.

Franklin said he came under fire after conducting an assessment that he believed showed that the department didn't need more police cars. He said the agency could function better by redistributing the cars it already owned and rented.

Clark and others had been lobbying city officials for more vehicles, he said.

Franklin delivered his assessment to city officials in July and was told that the commissioner was not happy with his findings, the former commander said.

On Friday, Franklin and other officials, including Clark, met with Mayor Martin O'Malley and First Deputy Mayor Michael R. Enright about the agency's vehicle needs. Some commanders could not answer questions about why some employees needed take-home cars, Franklin said.

After the meeting, "the commissioner said he felt embarrassed," Franklin said.

He added that Clark was upset with him for communicating with Enright via e-mail about the agency's cars.

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