Clark's disagreement

May 20, 2004

FIGHTING CRIME, shutting down the illicit drug trade, stopping the killing on Baltimore streets are critical to the well-being of the city. Those efforts are the essence of Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark's job, the driving force of his crime-fighting strategy, the reason to rally his officers. But a "domestic dispute" at the police commissioner's home last weekend has led to an independent investigation of the incident and Mr. Clark's stepping aside temporarily. That's lamentable because crime so corrupts the city's sense of self that Baltimore can't afford to have its chief law enforcement officer distracted from the job at hand.

What's important now is for the investigation involving Mr. Clark and his fiancee to proceed swiftly and fairly. The public deserves nothing less; so do Mr. Clark and his family. Bringing in the Howard County police to investigate was the right way to instill public confidence in the process.

"We had a disagreement like any other couple would have," Commissioner Clark explained in public comments about the incident, which led his fiancee to leave their home early Saturday morning and resulted in police reports that raised the possibility that an assault may have occurred.

No one should be surprised that a couple together 14 years would have their share of disagreements, strong words and loud arguments. But it's incumbent upon the Howard County police investigators to determine if the disagreement between the commissioner and his fiancee was any more serious than that.

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