Annapolis postpones search for police chief

July 11, 2008|By Justin Fenton and Nicole Fuller | Justin Fenton and Nicole Fuller,Sun Reporters

The mayor of Annapolis says the national search for a new police chief is being postponed indefinitely, to allow the interim chief to implement his vision for the agency.

Michael Pristoop, a former lieutenant in the Baltimore Police Department, took over the department in May after Chief Joseph S. Johnson announced his retirement. Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, whose second and final term ends next year, said at the time that she was wary of selecting a permanent chief because her successor might want to make his or her own choice.

But officials say Pristoop has won rave reviews from the community, and a consulting group commissioned last fall to study the department recommended that he be brought on permanently. Pristoop had implemented or recognized many of the initiatives suggested by the group by the time the $60,000 report was presented.

Moyer postponed the search indefinitely last month in an memo to members of the city council's public safety committee, saying that "conducting a full national search for a police chief at this time may be detrimental to reorganization of the police department."

Pristoop's interim tag will remain in the meantime, spokesman Ray Weaver said yesterday.

"It's early, but all the signs are good," Weaver said. "She's following the recommendation of [the consulting group] and saying, 'Can we just let this guy get settled in without this weight hanging over his head?'"

Alderman David H. Cordle Sr. said he was "so far very pleased" with Pristoop's performance, but was disconcerted that the mayor decided to hold off on a national search for a new chief. He accused her of promising to conduct a formal search without any intention of carrying it out, a contention Weaver denied.

Alderman Ross H. Arnett III said the mayor "made the right decision."

"I think he's gotten off to a very good start," Arnett said. "I think he's going to be our chief for as long as he wants to be chief."

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