Police chief candidate calls hiring mishandled

December 11, 2007|By John Fritze | John Fritze,SUN REPORTER

Ramsey — Incoming Philadelphia police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said in an interview yesterday that he thought Mayor Sheila Dixon could have better handled the process of hiring a police chief in Baltimore this year.

Ramsey - who had been a leading candidate for the job in Baltimore after Dixon asked Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm to resign in July - said the city originally approached him about the position and that a draft contract had been drawn up.

"The whole incident had been handled rather poorly considering the fact that Baltimore reached out to me," Ramsey told The Sun yesterday. "I'm not bitter, not upset and not angry about anything. I wish Baltimore well."

Ramsey, who oversaw a sharp drop in crime as the commissioner in Washington before stepping down last year, said he was disappointed that he was told Dixon had selected an internal candidate, Frederick H. Bealefeld III, on the eve of that announcement.

Ramsey said he did not save a copy of the draft contract he had negotiated with the city. He said he told Dixon that the process could have been handled more smoothly and that she had agreed.

Bealefeld, a 26-year department veteran who had served as deputy commissioner of operations before becoming commissioner, was confirmed by the City Council in November. Earlier this month, the Board of Estimates approved a contract that sets his annual base salary at $190,000.

Since Bealefeld started on an interim basis this summer there has been a slowing in the pace of homicides and nonfatal shootings, though both figures are still higher than last year. A police spokesman said the city has had 624 nonfatal shootings to date, up 20 from the same time last year.

In mid-July, by comparison, the city had experienced 130 more shootings than the year before.

Ramsey first made the comments on Dixon in an interview on WTOP radio regarding his appointment as Philadelphia's police chief. He said he expects to start that job Jan. 7.

Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for Dixon, wished Ramsey well. He said he could not discuss whether a draft contract had ever been drawn up with Ramsey.

"The mayor and her senior staff went through a comprehensive process to pick a new police commissioner," Clifford said. "The mayor is confident that she made the right decision."

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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