Baltimore police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm yesterday tapped a 25-year veteran to be his top deputy to run the day-to-day operations of the 3,000- member force.
Col. Frederick H. Bealefeld III, 44, was named deputy commissioner of operations, replacing Marcus Brown, who is leaving next month to head the Maryland Transportation Authority's police force, the department said.
For the past year, Bealefeld has served as chief of the Criminal Investigation Division, overseeing 300 detectives and other staff involved in investigating cases of violence, property crime, sex offenses, missing persons and other crimes.
"Fred Bealefeld is one of our most talented, dedicated, and experienced police officers, having performed with great distinction at every level, and in almost every division, of the department," Hamm said in a statement.
Bealefeld will oversee about two-thirds of a department that has taken credit for a decline in violent crime for the past several years, while at the same time weathering criticism of its policing strategies.
Community activists, civil rights advocates and some mayoral hopefuls have criticized the department, saying it has pushed officers to make mass arrests for minor crimes that are never pursued in court.
A quick homicide pace opened the year, and the city is operating under a new mayor with Sheila Dixon taking over from Martin O'Malley, the state's new governor. Dixon, who seeks election to a full term as mayor this fall, has vowed a more "holistic" and community-based approach to fighting crime.
Bealefeld said he would work closely with Hamm to involve other agencies and neighborhoods in the fight against crime.
"We've been fighting seemingly in isolation to try to make some progress," Bealefeld said, regarding an annual homicide total that has gone up after falling to a 15-year low in 2002. There were 25 people killed in the city in the first 29 days of the year. Last year, 275 people were killed in Baltimore - six more than in 2005.
Bealefeld will oversee officers and detectives in criminal investigations, homeland security, organized crime and patrol.
As chief of criminal investigations, Bealefeld appeared regularly at news conferences to brief reporters on major criminal cases. Often called upon to provide the facts of murders, Bealefeld has also provided emotional observations on the crime his detectives regularly investigate.
"A child's first line of defense is their family. Period," Bealefeld told The Sun, after detectives arrested a convicted sex offender in the killing last summer of 11-year-old Irvin Harris.
Bealefeld joined the department in May 1981 and has a family legacy with the police force. He had a great-grandfather, a grandfather and a great-uncle who worked for the department. His grandfather's brother, John Bealefeld, died in the line of duty in South Baltimore in 1945. His younger brother, Charles, works as a homicide detective.
Bealefeld rose through the ranks to become a supervisor in the homicide unit, commanding officer of the citywide narcotics section and commander of the Southern District. As one of two "area chiefs," he oversaw half of the patrol division. His next posting was as chief of the Criminal Investigation Division.
Bealefeld will take over as deputy commissioner Feb. 9. His replacement at the Criminal Investigation Division has not been announced.