Hamm to take over Coppin police force Jan. 2

December 21, 2007|By Gadi Dechter | Gadi Dechter,Sun reporter

Former Baltimore police chief Leonard D. Hamm will take over Coppin State University's public safety force next month, campus officials announced yesterday.

The Baltimore native, who resigned under pressure in July as the city homicide rate mounted, will make $92,000 a year in his new job. As city police chief, he earned $162,000.

Through a spokeswoman, Hamm, 58, declined to comment, but he said in a statement: "Many of the city police officers I have worked with are Coppin graduates. Over the years, I have always shared a special bond with Coppin."

When he assumes the director of public safety role Jan. 2, Hamm, who oversaw about 3,000 city officers, will manage a force of about 15, according to the university's November payroll. The Coppin department has 26 positions in all.

This is not Hamm's first experience in an educational setting. He is a former chief of the city school system's police force and headed the force at Morgan State University.

Coppin, situated in a crime-challenged West Baltimore neighborhood, is undergoing a major campus expansion from 38 acres to 52 acres.

"Due to this expansion, the new director will look at the establishment of community policing services and will be interacting with Baltimore City police officers to ensure all areas are covered," spokeswoman Ursula Battle said.

Coppin officials said crime is not a major problem on campus, though statistics collected by the Department of Education show an increase in some violent-crime categories from 2004 to 2006.

There were nine aggravated assaults on campus in 2006, up from four in 2004. On-campus robberies rose from one in 2004 to seven in 2006, according to statistics compiled by the federal Education Department.

Since 2006, on-campus crimes have declined, according to university statistics.

Hamm's wife is a Coppin graduate. He replaces Ronald B. Collins, who retired as campus police chief last year.

gadi.dechter@baltsun.com

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