Police Investigations Chief Stepping Down

April 22, 2009|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

The Baltimore Police Department's head of criminal investigations is stepping down, the latest shake-up of the agency's top leadership.

Officials confirmed that Col. John M. Bevilacqua - who oversees high-profile investigative units, including the homicide, district detective and sex offense divisions, as well as the crime lab - has decided to retire after 29 years with the Police Department, expressing a desire to spend more time with his family. His last day will be July 16.

Bevilacqua's departure will make him the third of the department's five colonels - just two rungs below the police commissioner - to leave in less than a year. Col. Walter Tuffy, head of the internal investigations units, retired last fall under pressure. Last month, Col. Stephen Davis, who oversaw technical services, stepped down.

Bevilacqua, a gruff veteran, had assumed greater responsibility in recent years. In February 2006, then a deputy major, he was placed in charge of the Southwest District after allegations of misconduct there. Not long after that move, he was overseeing the department's detective division.

Two of the divisions under his purview came under fire at the end of last year with a declining clearance rate in the homicide unit and the firing of the crime lab director after revelations of deficiencies there. But homicide detectives are off to a fast start in 2009, clearing a larger percentage of cases, and the new crime lab director has ushered in several protocols after an audit that was ordered by Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

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